The bodies of the two young girls allegedly killed in Colorado by their father had been submerged in oil.
Defense attorney James Merson said in a court motion Friday, August 17, that the bodies were in crude oil for four days before being found, reported the Associated Press.
The motion asks the judge to order that DNA samples be taken from the children’s throats; in another motion, the attorney requests that DNA samples be taken from the hands and nails of the body of the girls’ mother.
The bodies were submerged inside oil and gas tanks that were “mostly full,” sources added to ABC 7.
The placement of the bodies of Bella Watts, 4, and Celeste Watts, 3, was made to conceal the smell of the bodies while hiding them in the tanks owned by Anadarko Petroleum, the sources said.
Police officials in Frederick said late on Aug. 16, that the bodies of the girls were found close to those of their mother, Shanann Watts, who had worked for Anadarko.
Watts Reportedly Confesses
Chris Watts, 33, was arrested on Aug. 15 for the murders of his wife and two young children.
Shanann Watts’ brother posted on social media stating that Chris Watts had confessed, reported KDVR.
He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of tampering with evidence.
Watts initially maintained he didn’t know where his family had gone and said in a local broadcast he wished they would return home.
Before her death, his wife had painted a happy picture of married life.
Death Penalty Possible
While prosecutors could push for the death penalty, Colorado state law requires them to establish at least one of 17 aggravating factors to pursue it.
Aggravating factors include the death of a police officer, firefighter, judge, or a person in several other jobs; the use of dynamite or another explosive device in a murder; and especially heinous, cruel, or depraved conduct.
Criminal defense attorney Chris Decker told KDVR that the case for executing Chris Watts is strong, noting it seems to meet at least three of the factors: he killed more than one person, two of the victims were young children, and one was pregnant.
“There may be other mitigating circumstances, however, that also apply. Cooperating with police is one of those mitigating factors. If Watts led police to his wife and children’s bodies, it could potentially save his life,” Decker said.
“I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s being offered up or negotiated, but certainly law enforcement will be advising him that his participation would at least be some form of mitigation under the circumstances.”
Colorado has executed around 101 people in total but the death penalty in the state has only been used once since it was reinstated in 1978, in 1997.
Gary Davis, who was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 33-year-old woman, was executed by lethal injection that year.