Triple murder suspect Chris Watts has unsuccessfully sought to keep secret his visitors while behind bars, PEOPLE confirms.
Judge Marcelo A. Kopcow on Monday ruled against a motion from Watts’ attorney that requested sheriff’s officials be barred “from disclosing any information” about visits to him in Colorado’s Weld County Jail.
Watts, 33, has been held there since his arrest last month in the slayings of his pregnant wife, Shan’ann Watts, and their two young daughters, all of whom were missing for several days before their bodies were found at an oil work site.
In his decision, Kopcow — though he acknowledged the “confidentiality and loyalty” of those who work with defense attorneys is a “crucial element” in effective legal representation — nonetheless denied Watts’ request. (A copy of his decision was obtained by PEOPLE.)
Video: Prosecutors Ask Judge to Block Release of Autopsies Until Trial
However, Kopcow ordered the visit logs kept from prosecutors. Instead he instructed that the prosecution move to review the logs as necessary with the defense being able to seek redactions.
It was not immediately clear why Chris’ attorney had argued for the secrecy of his jail visitors, but the judge’s ruling made mention of experts consulting with the defense. The original motion has not been publicly released.
Among other pretrial disputes in the case — including an unresolved question about obtaining Chris’ DNA and fingerprints — the defense has repeatedly argued that the government should investigate the source of reported leaks from sources with knowledge of the investigation, including in articles published by PEOPLE.
“These … statements have the effect of irretrievably tainting the potential jury pool, violating Mr. Watts’ rights to a fair and impartial jury, and undermining the fundamental fairness of these proceedings,” his attorney contended.
The judge twice denied the request, saying it was beyond the scope of his legal authority.
Chris is charged with first-degree murder, among other crimes, in the deaths of 34-year-old Shan’ann and kids Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.
Neither causes of death nor motive have been confirmed and prosecutors have moved to keep the autopsies from being made public, saying they provide “critical evidence.”
Chris was taken into custody late on Aug. 15, two days after his family vanished and a day after he gave multiple TV interviews pleading for their return.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
Authorities say they found otherwise and accused Chris of murdering his family.
He has not yet entered a plea and is due to return to court in November.
His public defender is forbidden by office policy from commenting on the case.