The parents of Chris Watts tearfully addressed him at his sentencing hearing Monday for murdering his wife and two daughters, saying they are devastated and confused by his crimes but that they forgive him.
Before Watts received a life sentence without the possibility of parole, his parents’ attorney read a letter from them stating, “We are not here to ask for leniency and are not in any way condoning or tolerating the crime that has occurred or the pain that has been caused.”
Watts pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to first-degree murder in the August killings of his pregnant wife Shanann Watts, 34, and their daughters, Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3. He avoided the death penalty in exchange for his guilty plea.
At the sentencing, prosecutors said Chris strangled Shanann by hand and smothered his daughters.
The letter from Watts’ parents thanked Shanann’s parents for not seeking the death penalty and added that the murders “should never have happened. This is something we will never get over.”
Watts’ mother, Cindy Watts, addressed him directly while weeping. She acknowledged she was horrified by his actions but said, “I have always loved you and I still do,” and added, “We love you and forgive you son.”
Watts’ father, Ronnie Watts, told him, “The Bible says if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us. Chris, I forgive you and your sister forgives you and we will never abandon you.”
Watts was seen crying when his parents addressed him.
After he was arrested in August, authorities revealed Watts was having an affair with a woman from work, who later identified herself as Nichol Kessinger and said in an interview that Watts lied to her by saying he was in the process of getting divorced. In court on Monday, prosecutors said Watts’ motivation was simple: “He had a desire for a fresh start, to begin a new relationship with a new love.”
RELATED VIDEO: Shanann Watts’ Father Calls Chris Watts a ‘Monster’ at Sentencing
Both of Chris’ parents said they were struggling to comprehend his actions.
Ronnie said, “I believe he loves his girls. … I know he does.”
Cindy said, “I am still struggling to understand how and why this tragedy occurred,” and added, “I have watched you grow from a sweet and curious child who Bella reminded me so much of.”
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When she was killed, Shanann was 15 weeks pregnant with a boy to be named Niko. Chris also pleaded guilty to two counts of murdering a child, one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
At Monday’s hearing, Shanann’s parents and brother read a series of emotional statements mourning the loss of her and her girls and excoriating Chris for his crimes.
“What kind of person slaughters the people they love the most?” Frankie Rzucek, Shanann’s brother, said in a statement read on his behalf.
Said Sandra Rzucek, Shanann’s mother: “I have no idea who gave you the right to take their lives, but I know God and his mighty angels were there in that moment to bring them home to paradise.”
Shanann’s father, Frank Rzucek, repeatedly referred to Chris as a monster and an evil person.