Christopher Watts to remain jailed without bond after formal advisement

GREELEY, Colo. -- Christopher Watts was formally advised of the charges against him in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two children on Tuesday morning.

During a 20-minute appearance before Judge Marcelo Kopcow in Weld County District Court, Watts sat shackled, staring straight ahead and did not speak other than to say "Yes sir" when asked if he understood the charges.

Watts waived his right to have a preliminary hearing within 35 days and will be held without bond. He's due back in court on Nov. 19 for a status conference.

Colorado Public Defender John Walsh told the Greeley Tribune that Watts waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing given the defense had not yet received any discovery in the case.

A proof-evident hearing, in which prosecutors must prove there is enough probable cause to continue to trial, must be held within 35 days of formal charges.

Walsh told the newspaper he intends to file a motion asking for a preliminary hearing after Watts' next court appearance.

Watts, 33, is charged with nine felonies, including three counts of first-degree murder after deliberation, in the deaths of his 34-year-old wife Shanann, 4-year-old daughter Bella and 3-year-old daughter Celeste.

RELATED: Full coverage of deaths of pregnant mother, two daughters

He also has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder — victim under 12/position of trust, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Watts would face a mandatory life sentence in prison. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke has 63 days after an arraignment to serve notice if he will seek the death penalty.

Shanann Watts' father, Frank Rzucek, and brother, Frankie Rzucek, were in the courtroom and were emotional as Kopcow read the names of his daughter and granddaughters.

According to an arrest affidavit, Christopher Watts was actively involved in an affair with one of his co-workers. He admitted to the affair at first, then denied it, according to prosecutors.

RELATED: Christopher Watts arrest affidavit

The arresting documents claim Watts caught his wife strangling their daughters to death after the couple had a conversation about them separating early in the morning of Aug. 13 in their Frederick home.

He claims he then strangled his wife “in a rage.” Watts told investigators he loaded the bodies into his work truck and buried them on property owned by his employer, Anadarko Petroleum.

Shanann Watts, who was 15 weeks pregnant, and her daughters were reported missing at 1:40 p.m. on Aug. 13. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation issued a missing-endangered alert for the three the next day.

Christopher Watts said in a several interviews on Tuesday that he didn’t know where his wife and daughters were.

The Frederick Police Department, the CBI and the FBI canvassed the area before arresting Christopher Watts on Wednesday night.

The body of Shanann Watts, 34, was recovered Thursday in a shallow grave near an oil tank. Officials said Thursday night they found the bodies of the girls.

Court documents said the girls were found in an oil well in close proximity to their mother’s body. Court documents filed by defense lawyer James Merson said the girls had been submerged in crude oil for four days.

The Weld County Coroner’s Office confirmed the identities on Friday. The cause of their deaths has not been made public.

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