A Colorado man has avoided the death penalty for killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters in a case with North Carolina connections.
Christopher Watts entered his plea Tuesday during a court hearing in Greeley.
He could be heard sniffing and trembled each time he said "guilty" in response to each charge read against him by the judge.
Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death. According to The Associated Press, Shanann Watts' parents and brother were present in the hearing.
Rourke recounted a conversation with Shanann Watts' mother, Sandra Rzucek, that helped make the decision.
On Tuesday, the Weld County, Colo., district attorney's office said, Watts pleaded guilty to killing Shannan Watts, 34, and their daughters Bella, 3, and Celeste, 4, in August.
Hours after the arrest, his family's remains were discovered on property owned by an oil and gas company where he worked.
In August, after Shanann and the two girls were reported missing, Watts appeared on local television pleading for their safe return.
Watts initially told police he strangled his wife in a rage because, after the couple had argued, she killed their two girls.
Watts told detectives he was having an affair, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, and that he had loaded the bodies of his wife and daughters into his work truck and taken them to an oil field.
Taking a stab at Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, who had repeatedly opposed the execution of another death row inmate Nathan Dunlap, Rourke said: 'We explained to them the extraordinary delays that now exist in the state of Colorado as a result of in part the actions of our current governor.
Law enforcement believe they know the motive behind the murders, as well, and Rourke said he might speak about it after the sentencing.
"I know that that will never be fully realized because, obviously, the tragedy that sits before us today is the loss of four attractive lives".
"I was not willing to entertain any further concessions above and beyond removing the death penalty", he said.
While both Rourke and CBI Director John Camper said they hope this provides some closure and sense of justice, they also recognized that nothing that happens in the courtroom can fix what happened in the Watts' Frederick home in August. The spotlight shines squarely on him, ' he said. Rourke said he was "sick" and "saddened' over the case". "I never wanted to stand up and have a press conference like this".
Watts is represented by the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, which does not comment on pending cases.
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