Defense attorneys for Christopher Watts are letting the court decide whether to seal the autopsy reports for Watts’ wife and children, while a number of media organizations have stepped forward to say the court doesn’t have the authority to do so in this case.
Christopher Watts, 33, was arrested shortly after his wife and two daughters went missing in August. He is charged with five counts of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a deceased human body.
The bodies of 34-year-old Shanann Watts, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste were found on property owned by Watts’ former employer, Anadarko Petroleum Co. Shanann Watts was 15 weeks pregnant with a boy, who her family said would be named Nico.
The prosecution filed a motion Sept. 17 requesting that the reports be kept from the public, arguing that they would serve as evidence during the trial and their early release could taint witnesses not yet interviewed, as well as potential jurors.
In its response filed Oct. 4, the defense says it has no knowledge of witnesses that the prosecution has not yet interviewed. If the court makes its ruling based on this criteria, Watts’ attorneys have asked for a hearing to determine whether this position has any merit.
Watts’ right to a fair proceeding has “been so substantially damaged in this case,” his attorneys say, that the “narrow issue” of releasing the autopsy reports wouldn’t salvage anything. The reports will most likely be revealed at the preliminary hearing, ahead of any jury trial, they also point out.
Read more at dailycamera.com.