Parents blame son’s wife for murders
Just one week after a dad finally admitted to murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters, his parents have urged him to withdraw his pleas and contest the charges.
Chris Watts, 33, struck the plea deal to avoid the death penalty after slaying Shanann Watts, Celeste, three, and four-year-old Bella at their family home in August.
He sobbed in court as he pleaded guilty to five counts of murder in the first degree, three counts of tampering with a deceased human body and one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
He also admitted to hiding their bodies in an oil field. Watts' plea deal sets out that he serves three consecutive life sentences for the three murders, The Sun reported.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
But now his mum, Cynthia Watts, of Spring Lake, North Carolina, has told Denver Post: "I know he confessed, but he was railroaded into it. I want him to take back the plea deal."
Cynthia said that Watts told his dad, Ronnie, that he killed his wife after he found Shanann had strangled their daughters to death - and she believes his version of what happened.
She also alleged that her son's defence attorneys have concentrated their efforts on saving Watts from a possible death penalty and not defending him.
Cynthia added: "If he won't fight for himself, I will."
The request not to seek the death penalty came from Shanann's family, CBS Denver reports.
Watts had previously denied the charges and even made a tearful TV appeal for his family's safe return after they were reported missing in Frederick, Colorado.
Shanann's body was found buried in a shallow grave and the girls had been dumped in oil tanks on the property of Watts' former employer.
He was arrested the following day and charged with first degree murder and other felony counts in the slayings.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
In an interview with Denver7 on Monday, Cynthia defended her son, saying: "He's not a sociopath. He's not a psychopath. I asked Chris, 'If you did not do this, do not confess to something you didn't do [but his defence lawyer] shut me down. She completely shut me down."
The couple told the broadcaster they have "no idea" whether Watts was coerced into taking the plea deal last week.
However, Denver Post reports that while Weld County District lawyer Michael Rourke couldn't be reached for comment, he has previously said that the defendant's claim that his wife killed their kids was a "flat-out lie".
Cynthia and Ronnie Watts said their son claimed he saw his wife strangling their kids to death, and that he told them, "I'm sorry. I lost - I went into a rage, and I killed her. I am so sorry, I ruined your life, I ruined my life."
When Denver7 asked Ronnie Watts why his son then decided to put the girls' bodies in oil tanks, he said he did not understand the reason for his reaction after their deaths.
Watts was previously reported to have "showed no emotion" as he was booked into jail.
One expert later reviewing his infamous TV appeal claimed he showed psychopathic traits, including being overtly winsome and charming.
Kim Gorgens, a clinical professor of professional psychology at the University of Denver, told Fox 31: "It's not a personality characteristic that you can pick out of a line-up.
"It's not like someone wears a sign that says you can't trust. In fact, it's the opposite of that."
Police say Watts was having an affair with a co-worker and had informed his wife on August 13 - the night before her disappearance - that he wanted to separate.
According to court documents, an investigation determined that Watts, who was fired from his job at Anadarko Petroleum on the day of his arrest, "was actively involved in an affair with a co-worker".
Watts told investigators that he killed his wife after discovering that she had strangled their two daughters after he told her he wanted to separate.
Shanann's body was discovered in a shallow grave about 40 miles from the family's home and the girls' bodies were recovered from nearby oil tanks, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Watts now awaits sentencing on 19 November.
This article was originally published in The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.