On Monday, Colorado man Christopher Watts was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders of his wife Shanann, and their daughters Bella and Celeste, and for terminating Shanann’s pregnancy of unborn son Nico. The judge sentenced the defendant to three life sentences without the possibility of parole, 12 years for each of three counts of tampering with the bodies, and 48 years for ending the pregnancy.
He pleaded guilty to the crimes on November 6. This admission of guilt came after Watts, according to the arrest affidavit, told cops he killed Shanann, but insisted that she was the one who strangled the girls. Prosecutors argued this was a lie. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said Monday that Chris killed his family while pursuing a relationship with a new girlfriend. Watts’ parents Cindy and Ronnie spoke to the media last week, and suggested they believed the story Shanann killed the girls, but at Monday’s sentencing hearing, they said they now accept that their son did this.
Watts’ mother said there was nothing her son could say to make this better. Cindy said both families were “irreparably broken” by what he did. Nonetheless, both his parents, who delivered victim impact statements at the hearing, said they forgave him and love him.
That’s as warm a reception as he got on Monday. Shanann’s father and brother figuratively ripped into him when they gave their statements.
“You don’t deserve to be called a man,” said Shanann’s brother Frankie Rzucek, in a statement delivered by Rourke.
“Prison is too good for you,” said Shanann’s father Frank Rzucek Sr. He said that Chris carried Shanann, Bella, and Celeste “like trash” out of the house.
“I trusted you to take care of them, not kill them,” he said.
Shanann’s brother Frankie wondered aloud, “I just can’t comprehend how they weren’t enough for you.”
Watts’ attorney said that Watts was sorry for what he did, but recognized how words were not sufficient.
The judge called the acts of disposing of the bodies “despicable,” and said this case was among the worst he’s heard in nearly 17 years on the bench. Shanann’s family previously asked the prosecutors not to pursue the death penalty. On Monday, Watts parents thanked their in-laws for doing this.
Shanann’s mother Sandy Rzucek said in her impact statement that it wasn’t her place to ask for execution.
“I know God will put the evil people where they need to be,” she said.
Note: This article has been updated to include more details from the hearing.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime]