Christopher Watts, the Colorado man who is accused of killing his wife and two daughters, appeared in court on Aug. 21 and heard the nine felony charges against him.
Watts, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, acknowledged the charges against him, according to The Coloradoan newspaper. “Yes, sir” and “no, sir” are the only comments Watts made during the hearing.
He faces three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree murder by a person in a position of trust, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body, according to The Denver Post.
He’s accused of murdering Shanann Watts as well as daughters Celeste and Bella. They were reported missing by a friend in Frederick, Colorado, and Shanann’s body was later discovered in a shallow grave near an oil tank, said court documents in Weld County, according to ABC News. Watts worked on the property.
The bodies of the girls were found in oil and gas tanks, said a court document from Weld County prosecutors.
ABC published footage of Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek Sr., breaking down in tears during the court hearing. “Thank you, everyone, for coming out to the candlelight vigil and saying all your prayers. And keep the prayers coming for our family,” her father told reporters on Aug. 20.
If Watts, 33, is convicted of all nine charges, he could spend life in prison. But Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said that it is “way too early to have that conversation” when asked if prosecutors could seek the death penalty, according to The Coloradoan.
Watts was arrested Aug. 15, and according to arrest documents published on Aug. 19, he told police that Shanann had strangled their daughters after he told his wife that he wanted to separate. Then, he admitted to killing his wife in a bout of rage, according to the Coloradoan.
When Shanann and their two daughters were reported missing, the Frederick Police Department and other agencies began a search for them. Watts went on television to plead for his family’s return home, but he later confessed to the killing, according to the Post.
The death of Shanann came just days before she was to have a “gender reveal” party for her unborn child.
Ashley Bell, who owns a tanning salon and knew Shanann Watts, told KDVR that the “gender reveal” party had been scheduled for Aug. 18.
“They were always so happy. They were always so—I’m completely lost for words,” Bell said of the couple.
Colorado state law dictates that unborn babies are not able to be murdered. “Colorado law is very clear, and that’s what has to be applied in (the Frederick) case,” former Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told the Daily Camera.
“Unless a child is born and lives independently from the mother and is then killed due to something that happens after the child is born alive, you cannot bring a murder charge,” he said.