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Chris Watts — who killed his wife, daughters, unborn child — is sentenced during emotional hearing

Crime
Chris Watts is sentenced in the murders of his wife, two daughters, and unborn son in Greeley, Colorado. (Image source: KMGH-TV video screenshot)

Chris Watts, who pleaded guilty to killing his pregnant wife and the couple’s two daughters, was sentenced Monday in Greeley, Colorado.

What are the details?

Watts received life in prison without the possibility of parole in three counts of first-degree murder in connection with the murders of his wife, Shannan, and his two daughters, Celeste and Bella.

He received two additional concurrent life sentences for two other murder charges for different theories in Bella and Celeste's deaths, and 48 years for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. He also received 12-year sentences for three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.

Judge Marcelo Kopcow handed down the sentences after an emotional hearing and graphic testimony about the grisly murders of his wife and daughters.

Kopcow said, "I’ve been a judicial officer starting my 17th year and could objectively say that this is perhaps the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases that I have seen, and nothing less than a maximum sentence would be appropriate."

During the testimony, Shanann Watts' parents testified.

In a tearful delivery, Shanann's father, Frank Rzucek, called Watts a "monster" and said that Watts had taken his family out like trash.

"I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them. And they also trusted you," Rzucek said.

District Attorney Michael Rourke recounted the manner of the deaths — Shanann was strangled, and the couple's two young girls were smothered.

"Prison for the remainder of his life is exactly where he belongs for murdering his entire family," he said.

You can watch his reaction to the sentencing here.

What else?

Police charged Watts with multiple felonies on Aug. 20 after Shanann — 15 weeks pregnant — disappeared along with the couple’s 3- and 4-year-old daughters in Frederick, Colorado.

Two days after Shanann and the girls were reported missing, police found Shanann’s body buried in the ground at a petroleum company where Watts worked. Law enforcement also discovered the remains of the couple’s daughters submerged in two nearby oil tanks.

Shanann returned home to Frederick, Colorado, from a business trip in the early hours of Aug. 13. Upon her return, the couple reportedly held an emotional conversation about the their marriage. During the conversation, Chris reportedly told Shanann that he wanted a divorce.

Local police performed a welfare check on Shanann and her young daughters after the 34-year-old mom didn’t show up for an afternoon doctor’s appointment.

Just a day later, police arrested Watts and took him into custody.

In an unsealed court affidavit, police alleged that Watts was having an affair — a claim he initially denied. Watts admitted to killing his wife in a fit of rage, and said that his wife had strangled their daughters after he revealed he wanted a divorce.

Watts pleaded guilty to all charges earlier in November to avoid the death penalty.

You can read more on the background of the case here.

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