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Chris Watts' motive for killing his pregnant wife and two young daughters, as well as the brutal manner in which he carried out the murders, were revealed by prosecutors as the Colorado man was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday.
Prosecutor Michael Rourke said Watts killed his family not out of rage, but in a calculated manner.
“Why did this have to happen? [Watts]' motive was simple, your honor,” Rourke said. “He had a desire for a fresh start.”
He spoke about how Watts’ wife Shanann texted him over and over trying to save their marriage, how she bought relationship books for him, one of which was found in the trash. Instead, he shopped jewelry and vacation spots for his new girlfriend.
Rourke also spoke about the cruel way that Chris Watts killed his family, strangling Shanann before smothering his two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste.
“Let me say this, Bella fought for her life. She bit her tongue multiple times before she died,” he said, citing the medical examiner’s report.
Watts was sentenced to life in prison without parole for each of the three murders he confessed to committing back in August. The three sentences will run consecutively. He was also given 48 years for the life of the unborn child that Shanann was pregnant with.
Shanann and her little girls seemingly vanished from their home in Frederick, Colo., a small town north of Denver, in August. In the days after reporting them missing, Watts played the role of distraught husband and father pleading for their safe return in several emotional media appearances. He told police he last saw his wife and two girls at about 5:15 a.m. the day they vanished, when he left for work.
However, Watts was soon being scrutinized as the main suspect in their disappearance. On Aug. 16, three days after they vanished, police recovered the body of Shannan in a shallow grave on a property owned by Anadarko Petroleum. That same day, Watts was charged with three counts of murder and one count of obstruction of justice. Then, just hours later, the bodies of Bella and Celeste were found hidden inside of oil and gas tanks, not far from where the body of their mother was discovered.
Rourke described the way Watts dumped the bodies as "one final sign of callousness."
"He drove their bodies to a place where he thought no one would find them. In one final measure of disrespect for his family, he made sure the three of them would never be together in death (or so he thought).”
Despite laying out his belief that Watts was after a fresh start, Rourke acknowledged that Watts may never reveal what drove him to murder them instead of simply leaving.
“None of this answers why: If he wanted a new start -- why not get a divorce?” Rourke asked. “Why annihilate your whole family?”
He also added that he felt Watts showed no remorse for his family.
“I didn’t see any remorse on his face at all. I saw someone who felt truly sorry for himself for the circumstances he brought upon himself."
Watts’ lawyer apologized for him saying he is deeply sorry before his sentencing. Watts himself declined to make a statement.
Before sentencing Chris Watts to spend the rest of his life behind bars, Judge Marcelo Kopcow called his crimes "the most inhumane and vicious crime that I have handled out of the thousands of cases that I have seen."
[Photo: Associated Press]
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