Attorneys for Chris Watts have alleged that prosecutors have leaked case information to the media in connection with his arrest in the slayings of Chris' wife Shanann, two young daughters, and an unborn son.
What's the background?
Police charged Chris Watts, 33, with three counts of first-degree murder, and one felony count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy. Shanann, 34, was 15 weeks pregnant with the couple’s third child when she and her 3- and 4-year-old daughters disappeared.
Shanann returned home to Frederick, Colorado, from a business trip in the early hours of Aug. 13. Shanann and Chris reportedly had an emotional conversation about their marriage shortly after she returned home, in which Chris reportedly told Shanann that he didn't want to be married any longer.
Local police performed a welfare check on Shanann and the girls after Shanann didn’t show up for a 1:30 p.m. doctor’s appointment.
A day later, police took Chris into custody. The very next day, investigators discovered Shanann’s dead body buried in the ground at a petroleum company where Chris worked. Investigators also discovered the bodies of Celeste and Bella nearby.
In an unsealed court affidavit, police alleged that Chris Watts was having an affair — a claim he initially denied. Watts also admitted to murdering his wife in a fit of rage after she’d reportedly strangled their daughters after he revealed that he wanted to end their marriage.
Watts has been incarcerated at the Weld County Jail, and awaits a Nov. 19 status conference.
You can read more on the background of the case here.
What's happening now?
Attorneys for Watts are now accusing prosecutors as well as police of leaking information about the case to the public.
Court documents noted that Watts' attorneys requested the court open an investigation into the possibility of leaked information. Watts' attorneys filed the motion, which would have the court appoint a special commission in order to investigate their claims.
KMGH-TV reported that prosecutors have dismissed the claim, and said that publicly available court documents have been the source for any media reporting. Prosecutors also argued that providing the money for the special commission investigation would be a strain on the court, as it lacks staff and funds.
The Weld County District Attorney's Office, according to the outlet, is reportedly taking precautions to limit information releases.
A portion of a response from the District Attorney's Office read, "The District Attorney strives to protect both the rights of the individual defendant or suspect, and the need of citizens to be informed and aware of public dangers and the conduct of public judicial proceedings. There is no evidence any lawyer or other employee of the District Attorney's Office has violated any rule of professional conduct or corresponding order of this Court."
The brief added, "During the press briefing on formal charges, and subsequent to reading the charges, the District Attorney explained that the rules of professional conduct prevented his office from answering questions specific to the investigation, and further reminded the media that charges are simply allegations and that the Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
You can watch a video report on the news here.