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At this year's CrimeCon, Nancy Grace explained why she thinks the slaughter of a Colorado family, committed by the patriarch who is now infamous for his brutality and lies, captured the attention of the nation and is still reportedly haunting the investigators who worked on the case.
Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife, Shanann, and their daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste in August 2018. He was sentenced to life in prison soon after without the possibility of parole.
The nation became obsessed with the case, not just because of the shocking details but also because Watts initially portrayed himself as a worried husband and father concerned about his then-missing family. He also, once arrested for the crime, tried to blame his dead wife, claiming he killed only her after she murdered their children. He later admitted to killing all of them.
At CrimeCon 2019, legal commentator and Oxygen contributor Nancy Grace, whose new series, “Injustice with Nancy Grace,” premieres in July, talked to Oxygen Digital Correspondent Stephanie Gomulka about the fascination and horror surrounding the case.
“He had it all,” she said. “He had this gorgeous wife, Shanann. He’s got the children, Bella and Celeste, beautiful. They always wanted a boy. They’re having baby Nico. He’s on the way. Beautiful home.”
She noted from the outside it looked perfect.
“It looked like a postcard,” she said. “It was perfect. When you look at somebody like Chris Watts in court, this picture perfect setting, it’s hard. It’s like the mind is tricking the eye. You’re seeing one thing but the evidence tells you something different, that he in fact is a cold-blooded killer who killed his own children, so I think that’s the fascination. It’s like trying to put together a Rubik's Cube. You can’t sort it out in your head.”
Further nationwide disgust and outrage followed when authorities released additional disturbing details based on subsequent interviews conducted with Watts earlier this year, like that he had sex with Shannan before killing her and detailing how she didn’t fight back and thought she may have even been praying while he choked the life out of her.
At “Injustice With Nancy Grace,” a panel Grace hosted at CrimeCon 2019, a person in the audience asked about her about Chris Watts' future.
“I heard he wants a do-over,” she said, referencing reports that the killer wants to appeal his conviction. “That ain’t gonna happen.”
“That’s not gonna happen,” Grace said at her panel. “Could it happen? Yes. Do I think it will happen? No.”
The chances do appear slim.
“The defendant was advised at the time of his guilty plea that he was giving up certain constitutional rights, including the right to an appeal,” Krista Henery, Community Relations Director for the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, told Oxygen.com in May.
OK, so he's not supposed to, but that doesn't sound like he absolutely can't. An expert told Oxygen.com there are ways around this.
Aya Gruber, professor of law at the University of Colorado, told Oxygen.com that although he is timed out, it is possible. She said a person can appeal if they claim the sentence is illegal or in regards to the appeal process itself.
“[You can] if you were not informed, or you were coerced, or you didn’t get effective assistance of counsel,” she said. “All appeals are pretty much long shots but appealing a plea bargain on the basis of coercion or ineffective assistance of counsel, that’s like a super long shot.”
Grace said at her panel that even if Chris did get an appeal he may be sorry he did.
“Be careful what you wish for,” she said.
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