A father who killed his two young daughters then tried to frame his murdered wife has admitted it to avoid the death penalty.

Chris Watts, 33, had claimed he saw his wife murdering Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3, on a baby monitor, then went into a rage and strangled his wife Shannan, who was 15 weeks pregnant.

He pleaded guilty today under a plea deal allowing him to avoid the death penalty but putting him in jail for life without a chance of parole.

After he killed his family, Watts hid the bodies of his daughters in an oil tank where he worked to hide the smell of their decaying bodies, and buried his wife in a shallow grave.

Christopher and Shannan Watts, pictured with daughters Bella and Celeste. Shannan was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy when her husband allegedly murdered her (Picture: Instagram)

One of Shannan’s friends became concerned about her whereabouts after not hearing from her for several days after August 13 and contacted police.

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Watts was arrested on August 16 – after making a TV appeal for information about the whereabouts of his missing family.

He said their disappearance had left him ‘torn up inside’ and appealed for ‘everybody to just come home.’

Shanann Watts’ family members ‘were very strongly in favor of a resolution in this case short of the death penalty,’ Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said.

FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2018, file photo, Christopher Watts is escorted into the courtroom before his bond hearing at the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colo. Charges were filed Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, against 33-year-old Watts in the deaths of his pregnant wife and their two young daughters. (Joshua Polson/The Greeley Tribune via AP, Pool, file)
Christopher Watts pictured at a bond hearing on August 16. (Picture: AP)

He recalled her mother, Sandra, saying Christopher Watts ‘made the choice’ to take the lives of his family members.

‘I do not want to be in the position of making the choice to take his,’ Rourke said, quoting Sandra. ‘That’s about as firmly as she could have said it to me.’

Watts’ voice was shaking, and he could occasionally be heard sniffing after each time he said ‘guilty.’

The agreement also required Watts to plead guilty to unlawful termination of Shanann Watts’ pregnancy, a felony in Colorado.

Family members have said she planned to name the boy Nico.

The deal also ensures that Watts, who is 33, will consecutively serve each sentence for that charge and the murders of his wife and daughters.

Rourke said Tuesday that investigators never believed that Watts was being entirely truthful.

‘The spotlight that he tried to shine on Shanann – falsely, incorrectly and frankly a flat-out lie – has been corrected,’ Rourke said. ‘The spotlight shines directly where it belongs: On him.’

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