Shanann Watts’ family files wrongful death lawsuit against Christopher Watts, who murdered her and their two children

Shanann Watts’ family files wrongful death lawsuit against Christopher Watts, who murdered her and their two children

The family of the Frederick woman and her two small daughters slain by Christopher Watts filed a lawsuit against the murderer seeking money for the pain and suffering of losing their loved ones.

Sandra and Frank Rzucek filed the wrongful death suit against Watts in Weld County District Court on Nov. 19, the same day Watts was sentenced to life in prison in the murders of 34-year-old Shanann, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste. The money would help cover funeral expenses, the loss of Shanann’s income and compensate for the family’s “permanent and continuing emotional distress” due to the killings, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also asks for relief for the death of Shanann’s unborn child, Nico, under a Colorado law that allows a woman to sue if someone knowingly causes an unlawful termination of her pregnancy. Frank Rzucek, her father, can sue under that law as the representative for his daughter’s estate.

Under Colorado law, the surviving spouse of a deceased person or their heirs may file a wrongful death suit. But because the spouse was the killer in Watts’ case and the heirs were also victims, Shanann Watts’ parents were able to file the lawsuit.

Watts pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to murdering his family and hiding their bodies on a rural Weld County oil site. Watts first told police that he strangled his wife after she killed the two young girls, but prosecutors later said that was a lie.

“(Watts’) initial ‘confession’ was patently false, absurd, and grotesque,” the complaint states.

Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke filed a claim on Nov. 20 stating that Watts owed at least $41,807 in restitution for his crimes. Rourke also note that he expects to file requests for more money in the future.

A judge is scheduled to review the case in January.

Watts was transferred Monday to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center to undergo evaluations before being placed in a Colorado Department of Corrections facility, corrections spokesman Mark Fairbairn said in an email.

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