A Colorado man accused of killing his pregnant wife and their two daughters has reached a surprise plea agreement to avoid the death penalty, according to the Weld County District Attorney. He said a judge has not formally accepted the guilty pleas or the sentence.
He arrived the court wearing a bullet proof vest and sobbed each time he pleaded guilty to each of the nine charges. Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy she planned to name Nico.
Watts pleaded guilty to charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife and daughters and allegations that he killed the girls while in a position of trust.
Rourke said he hoped the agreement would bring some measure of closure for the family, who were present during the court hearing and the press conference.
Rourke said at a press conference that the plea deal was made with the support of Shanann Watts' family, and after he explained what he called the "extraordinary delays that now exist" in Colorado in putting prisoners to death.
"I was not willing to entertain any further concessions above and beyond removing the death penalty", he said. Hickenlooper also expressed doubts at the time about the use of the death penalty generally.
The plea deal was approved by Shanann's family who told the district attorney they did not want to end his life as he did their daughter's and grandchildren's.
"Sandra said it best when she said: 'He made that choice to take their lives".
'That to me was the most important consideration in deciding how to proceed in this a case.
"Sandy said it very, very poignantly to me".
Rashida Tlaib is first Muslim woman elected to U.S. Congress
She campaigned in favor of single-payer health care, tighter gun control and more inclusive immigration policies. She has a bachelor's degree in politics from North Dakota State University and has also studied public affairs.
The Rzucek family watched from a row of chairs, holding hands, as Rourke spoke to reporters but did not speak.
Shanann Watts' mother, father and brother were in court but chose not to speak with the media.
Shanann Watts, Bella and Celeste were first reported missing on August 13 by one of Shanann Watts' friends.
Investigators say Watts killed his family and then dumped their bodies on the property belonging to an oil company.
The girls' bodies were found submerged in an oil tank, and Shanann Watts' body was found in a shallow grave.
He had previously claimed that after telling his wife he was having an affair, she had killed one of their children and was trying to kill another when he attacked her.
"We charged him with what we truly believed he had done", Rourke said.
"The spotlight he tried to shine on Shanann, falsely, incorrectly.is now shined correctly on him", Rourke said.
Watts will receive his other sentencing terms on November 19, the date on which his status conference was previously scheduled.
Colorado law requires that a first-degree murder conviction brings a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.