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chris watts how many years in prison

16 Jun 2023, Prisons, by

If you’re curious about the fate of Chris Watts, the man who murdered his pregnant wife and two daughters, this article will provide you with all the information you need.

chris watts how many years in prison - Inmate Lookup

The case of Chris Watts, who was found guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 2018, sent shockwaves through the country and captured the attention of millions. Watts, who initially pleaded guilty to the charges, was ultimately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But how many years will he actually spend behind bars? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the heinous crime committed by Watts, the legal system’s sentencing guidelines for murder convictions, and much more to answer this question.

The Heinous Crime Committed by Chris Watts in 2018

The story began in August 2018, when Watts’ pregnant wife Shanann and their two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, went missing from their home in Colorado. Initially, Watts made a public plea for their safe return, but it was later discovered that he had killed his family and disposed of their bodies at an oil site where he worked.

According to the prosecution’s case, Watts strangled Shanann and smothered their two daughters before loading their bodies into his truck and driving them to the oil site. It was a gruesome and premeditated act of violence that left the community in shock and disbelief.

After his arrest, Watts initially denied any involvement in the disappearance of his family. However, he eventually confessed to the murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The case gained national attention and sparked discussions about domestic violence and mental health issues. It also led to the creation of new laws in Colorado, including one that requires anyone convicted of a felony to submit a DNA sample to a statewide database.

The Trial and Sentencing of Chris Watts

After pleading guilty to the charges against him, Watts was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on November 19, 2018. While the sentence was expected given the severity of the crime, many were left wondering how many actual years Watts will spend behind bars.

During the trial, it was revealed that Watts had been having an affair with a co-worker and had been planning to leave his wife, Shanann, for the other woman. However, when Shanann found out about the affair, Watts strangled her and their two young daughters, Bella and Celeste, and disposed of their bodies at an oil site where he worked.

The case gained national attention and sparked discussions about domestic violence and the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Shanann’s family also started a foundation in her honor to raise awareness about domestic violence and help victims of abuse. The tragedy of the Watts family will not be forgotten, and their story serves as a reminder of the importance of recognizing and addressing domestic violence in our communities.

Understanding the Legal System’s Sentencing Guidelines for Murder Convictions

In Colorado, where Watts was convicted, the sentencing guidelines for first-degree murder are as follows:

  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole
  • Death penalty

In cases where the death penalty is not sought, the sentence for first-degree murder automatically results in life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

It is important to note that the sentencing guidelines for murder convictions vary by state. For example, in some states, the death penalty is not an option and the maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after a certain number of years served.

In addition, the sentencing guidelines may also take into account aggravating or mitigating factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history, the circumstances of the crime, and the impact on the victim’s family. These factors can result in a sentence that is more or less severe than the standard guidelines.

Expert Analysis of the Factors that Influenced Chris Watts’ Sentence

Many factors went into the decision to sentence Watts to life in prison. One such factor was the severity of the crime itself. Killing one person is a heinous act; killing three, including two children, is almost incomprehensible.

Additionally, the prosecution’s case was strong and convincing, and Watts’ initial plea of guilt likely had an impact on his sentence. Finally, the impact of the crimes on the victims’ families and the community as a whole was likely a factor in the decision to impose a harsh sentence.

Another factor that may have influenced Watts’ sentence was his lack of remorse for his actions. Throughout the trial, he showed little emotion and did not take responsibility for his crimes. This lack of remorse may have been seen as a sign that he was not truly sorry for what he had done and was therefore a danger to society.

An Overview of the Different Degrees of Murder and Their Corresponding Sentences

While first-degree murder is the most severe charge, there are other degrees of murder with varying punishments:

  • Second-degree murder: 16 to 48 years in prison
  • Third-degree murder: 4 to 12 years in prison

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and judges have some discretion in the sentence they impose.

It’s also worth mentioning that the specific circumstances of the crime can greatly impact the sentence given. For example, aggravating factors such as the use of a weapon or premeditation can result in a longer sentence, while mitigating factors such as a lack of criminal history or evidence of remorse can result in a shorter sentence. Additionally, some states may have different degrees of murder or different sentencing guidelines altogether. It’s important to consult with a legal professional for specific information regarding murder charges and sentences in your jurisdiction.

Comparing Chris Watts’ Sentence to Other High-Profile Murder Cases

One high-profile murder case that’s often compared to Watts’ is that of Scott Peterson, who was found guilty of killing his pregnant wife Laci and their unborn child. Peterson received the death penalty in California, which is a harsher sentence than the one Watts received. Yet, some argue that Watts’ acts were more brutal and gruesome than Peterson’s, and therefore, Watts’ sentence may be considered more appropriate.

Another high-profile murder case that has been compared to Watts’ is that of Casey Anthony, who was acquitted of killing her two-year-old daughter Caylee. Despite the lack of a conviction, many people believe that Anthony was responsible for her daughter’s death and that she got away with murder. The comparison between Anthony and Watts lies in the fact that both cases involved the murder of innocent children. However, while Watts admitted to killing his wife and children, Anthony maintained her innocence throughout the trial.

The Impact of the Murders on the Victims’ Families and the Community

While the legal ramifications of the murders are significant, the emotional impact on the victims’ families and the surrounding community cannot be overstated. The brutal slayings of a pregnant woman and two young children are almost impossible to come to terms with.

The Watts family murders have had a profound impact on the community and have sparked conversations about domestic violence, mental health, and the importance of addressing emotional well-being. Hopefully, these conversations will lead to positive change and prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

The impact of the murders on the victims’ families has been devastating. They have lost loved ones in a senseless act of violence and are left to deal with the aftermath. The trauma of the murders will likely stay with them for the rest of their lives, and they will need support and resources to help them cope.

Additionally, the community has been left reeling from the murders. The sense of safety and security has been shattered, and many are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. There is a need for healing and rebuilding, and it will take time for the community to recover from this tragedy.

A Timeline of Events Leading up to Chris Watts’ Conviction and Sentencing

August 13, 2018: Shanann and her two daughters go missing.

August 14, 2018: Police investigate the family’s home.

August 15, 2018: Chris Watts is arrested and charged with the murder of Shanann and his daughters.

November 6, 2018: Watts pleads guilty to the charges against him.

November 19, 2018: Watts is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Following the sentencing, the case gained national attention and sparked discussions about domestic violence and mental health. Many people were shocked by the brutality of the crime and the fact that Watts had initially lied about his involvement. The case also highlighted the importance of early intervention in cases of domestic violence and the need for better support for victims.

In the aftermath of the trial, Shanann’s family started a foundation in her honor, which aims to raise awareness about domestic violence and support victims. The foundation has also worked to pass legislation that would make it easier for victims to obtain restraining orders and other forms of legal protection.

The Role of Forensic Evidence in Securing a Conviction Against Chris Watts

One critical factor in securing a conviction against Watts was the use of forensic evidence. The prosecution presented DNA and other evidence that linked Watts to the crime scene and his victims.

While forensic evidence can play an essential role in many cases like this, it’s essential to remember that there are also times where it can be flawed or misinterpreted, leading to false accusations and convictions.

It’s important to note that forensic evidence is not always the only factor in securing a conviction. In the case of Chris Watts, the prosecution also relied on witness testimony and other circumstantial evidence to build their case. However, the use of forensic evidence can often provide crucial support to other forms of evidence and help to strengthen the prosecution’s case.

Possible Appeals and Parole Options Available to Chris Watts in the Future

While Watts was sentenced to life in prison without parole, he does have some options for appeal. The appeal process is lengthy and complex, and it’s challenging to overturn a conviction after a successful trial, but it’s not impossible.

In the future, Watts may also become eligible for parole, but it’s unlikely given the severity of his crimes.

How Society Can Prevent Similar Tragedies from Happening Again

As previously mentioned, the Watts family murders have sparked conversations about domestic violence, mental health, and the importance of addressing emotional well-being.

It’s essential to remember that there are resources available for individuals who are experiencing mental health or relationship problems. It’s important to seek help and support before things escalate to the level that they did with the Watts family.

Examining the Psychological Profile of a Murderer Like Chris Watts

Murders like Chris Watts often leave us wondering about the psychological factors at play. What drives a person to commit such a heinous act?

Research has shown that there is no single cause for violent behavior and that a combination of genetic, environmental, and social factors may contribute to such behavior.

How Social Media Played a Role in Shaping Public Opinion During the Investigation and Trial

The use of social media in high-profile cases has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. During the investigation and trial of Chris Watts, social media played an essential role in shaping public opinion.

Some argued the impact of social media was so significant that it influenced the decision to accept Watts’ plea. As more information becomes available to the public, the role of social media will only continue to evolve.

The Impact of Media Coverage on the Outcome of High-Profile Trials Like Chris Watts’

Media coverage of high-profile trials like Chris Watts’ can have a significant impact on the outcome of the case. The more coverage a trial receives, the greater the likelihood of biases and preconceived notions that can influence the jury’s decision.

It’s essential, therefore, for the media to remain impartial in their coverage, present all of the evidence objectively, and refrain from sensationalizing the case in any way that could impact the outcome.


The Watts family murders were a tragic and heinous crime that has left a mark on the community and the country as a whole. While Watts was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, it’s important to remember that the impact of his actions will be felt for years to come.

It’s our responsibility as individuals, as a society, and as a legal system to hold those who commit such egregious acts accountable for their actions and to strive to prevent similar tragedies from happening again in the future.