Christopher Watts, the Colorado man who recently pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and two little girls, was finally sentenced for the crimes in an emotional hearing that revealed previously unreported details of the crime.
In a hearing Monday, November 19, Watts was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole.
He was also sentenced to an additional 48 years in prison for the death of Nico, his unborn son, and 12 additional years for each of three counts of tampering with a dead body. Watts was given the opportunity to make a statement at the hearing but declined. Instead, he had his defense attorney read a prepared statement that said, "He is devastated by all this, although he understands words are hollow at this point. He is sincerely sorry."
Watts' parents spoke at the hearing and apologized for statements they made last week implying that his wife Shan'ann may have been to blame for her own murder.
"Our families have been needlessly broken by the deaths of Bella, Celeste, Nico and Shan'ann," said his mom, Cindy Watts. "This is something we will never get over, and we are united in our grief."
The hearing included statements by Shan'ann's father, who called Watts an "evil monster" and said, "How dare you take the lives of my precious Shan'ann, Bella, Celeste and Nico? I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them ... and you took them out like trash."
I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them ... and you took them out like trash.
Shan'ann's brother and mother also spoke at the hearing, sharing that they begged the district attorney not to give Watts the death penalty. "I didn’t want death for you because that's not my right," Shan'ann's mom said through tears. "Your life is between you and God now, and I pray that he has mercy for you."
The hearing also included heartbreaking details about Shan'ann's, Bella's and Celeste's final moments.
District Attorney Michael Rourke said a report from the medical examiner showed that Shan'ann was strangled to death, "not in a fit of rage, but in a calculated and sick way." He emphasized that to strangle someone to death takes two to four minutes, so Shan'ann's final moments were filled with horror.
Rourke said Bella and Celeste, whose cause of death had previously been withheld, were both killed by smothering. In a gut-wrenching revelation, Rourke said the medical examiner found evidence that Bella fought back as her father killed her, biting her tongue several times from the effort of trying to get away.
"The man seated to my right smothered his daughters," Rourke said. "Imagine the horror in Bella's mind as her father snuffed out her life. ... She fought back for her life as her father smothered her."
Shan'ann and her two daughters were reported missing on August 14.
Watts initially pleaded for their safe return in news footage that many said showed him appearing too calm and unconcerned. Some also noted what appeared to be scratches on Watts' neck.
Just two days after his plea aired, news broke that Watts had been arrested and was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder and tampering with dead bodies. Ultimately, Watts confessed to killing 34-year-old Shan'ann but said the murder happened in a fit of rage after she killed their 3- and 4-year-old daughters. He accused his late wife of strangling their girls in an act of revenge after he told her he wanted to get a divorce.
However, two weeks ago, Watts pleaded guilty to all three murders—a move an anonymous source told People magazine that Watts made because he had "finally faced reality."
Rourke also confirmed that evidence points to Watts' cheating as a motive for the crimes. In the weeks leading up to Shan'ann's death, he revealed, Watts was busy texting his new girlfriend, shopping for jewelry and going on dates, as his wife texted them about marriage counseling and even gifted him self-help books about how to improve their relationship. One of those books, Rourke noted, was found in the trash when investigators searched the house.
During the sentencing, the judge called the murders "perhaps the most inhuman and vicious crime that I have handled."
Rourke echoed the sentiment. “If he was this unhappy and wanted a fresh start? Get a divorce," he said. "You don’t annihilate your family and throw them away like garbage.”
This post was originally published on Mom.me sister site CafeMom.