Colorado father Christopher Watts pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and their two children on Tuesday after striking a deal with prosecutors which means he will not face the death penalty.
Christopher Watts, 33, was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife Shanann and two daughters Celeste and Bella in Colorado in August, according to a press release from the Weld County District Attorney's Office. But he said he strangled her in "a rage" when he discovered she had strangled their two daughters after he sought a separation.
Watts appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to all nine counts against him, including five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
Rourke said he described "extraordinary delays" in carrying out the death penalty in Colorado since Gov. John Hickenlooper's 2013 decision to block the execution of Nathan Dunlap.
The judge set sentencing for November 19 at 10 a.m.
The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, and Shanann Watts' body was found in a shallow grave.
"The tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four lovely lives", Rourke said, "and no matter what happens today or at a sentencing hearing down the road, we cant get them back". Watts faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Sandra said it best when she said: 'He made that choice to take their lives".
'That to me was the most important consideration in deciding how to proceed in this a case. He said a judge has not formally accepted the guilty pleas or the sentence.
Shannan Watts, 34, and her daughters Bella and Celeste (pictured) were found dead on a property owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corp.
"He deserves a life sentence for each and every act", Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.
"[Shan'ann's mother] said it very, very poignantly to me", Rourke recalled.
Law enforcement believe they know the motive behind the murders, as well, and Rourke said he might speak about it after the sentencing.
"No one wins today", he said.
While Rourke said he followed standard procedure in this case, acting no differently despite its notoriety, the clear wishes of Shan'ann's family's were unavoidable. "I never wanted to stand up and have a press conference like this".