Christopher Watts sentenced to life in prison for deaths of pregnant wife, young daughters

WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- Christopher Watts was sentenced to three life sentences in prison on Monday for the murder of his pregnant wife and young daughters.

Watts did not speak at the hearing, but one of his attorneys said Watts was "sincerely sorry."

At the sentencing, the district attorney said Watts strangled 34-year-old Shanann Watts, and smothered the couple’s two daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke's comments on how Watts killed his family are the first time authorities have discussed how the family died.

Watts pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths. The plea includes the unlawful termination of pregnancy for the death of Shanann’s unborn son, Nico.

Watts received life in prison without the possibility of parole, which will run consecutively, for three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Shanann, Bella, and Celeste.

He received two more concurrent life sentences for two other first degree murder charges for different theories in the deaths of Bella and Celeste.

The judge also sentenced Watts to 48 years, which will run consecutively to the other sentences, for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy, in the death of the son Shanann was pregnant with, whom family members have called Nico.

Watts also received 12-year sentences for three separate counts of tampering with a deceased body. Those sentences will run consecutively to the other sentences as well.

"You heartless monster"

As Watts listened with his head down, Shanann Watts' parents detailed their ongoing struggle to understand how he could murder the three people who considered him a hero.

Frank Rzucek said he was disgusted by the way his son-in-law took his wife and two daughters "out like the trash."

"Prison is too good for you," Rzucek said. "This is hard to say, but may God have mercy on your soul."

"You disgust me," he added.

Bella "fought for her life"

The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank on property owned by the company Watts worked for. His wife's body was found in a shallow grave nearby.

As a prosecutor detailed the injuries found on the bodies, Rzucek leaned forward, gasping. Michael Rourke said Shanann Watts was strangled, but her lack of significant injuries suggested that her death came slowly.

The girls were smothered, and Rourke said there were signs Bella "fought for her life." Celeste had no visible injuries, he said.

"We forgive you son"

Christopher Watts' parents, Cindy and Ronnie Watts, were permitted to speak as the girls' grandparents. Each said they still loved their son and urged him to seek God's forgiveness.

"We love you," Cindy Watts said into a microphone before turning to look directly at her son. "And we forgive you, son."

Watts wiped away a tear with his shirt after his parents left the podium. He kept his head down for much of the hearing, speaking only once to confirm that he did not want to make a statement before Judge Marcelo Kopcow imposed his sentence.

Cindy Watts spoke to FOX31's Deborah Takahara and said that she wants Christopher to know she loves him and will always love him. She also said she hopes another family never has to go through the same thing.

"I want to know one day what happened," Cindy said. "I have accepted this is what he wants to do, I just want to tell him I love him."

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