Speculation is swirling that the irregular moving up of the Watts hearing from November 19th to November 6th involves a plea deal. There’s plenty of reason to believe this speculation is well founded.
Chris Watts’ first court appearance was on August 17th, followed by his last court appearance to date on August 21st. His next court appearance was meant to be approximately three months later. Now it’s been moved up by two weeks, falling on the same day as the mid-term elections in America, and what’s more, the time [at 14:00] means media coverage after midday will swamp all over coverage.
The hearing is also scheduled to be short, just 30 minutes, quick enough to raise and brush the legalities under the carpet without anyone noticing, and without the media being able to do much with any reporting that does happen.
One wonders what will happen to the autopsy reports? Are these also going to remain under seal permanently just like the Ramsey case file 22 years later?
Strangely, the District Attorney’s office has provided no reasons why this status hearing needed to be moved in the first place. But maybe providing no reasons is all part of the plan.
The Chris Watts case is poised to become one of the most high-profile cases in America right now, a scenario certain vested legal and business interests would like to avoid if they possibly can. The links between the Watts case and the Ramsey case aren’t incidental either.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to point out that Frederick, Colorado is just 31 minute’s drive [22 miles] due East of Boulder, and Greeley [where the Weld County Court is located] is also nearby – 53.8 miles north east of Boulder.
Boulder has made a name for itself over the past two decades and counting as a legal dead-end for the JonBenet Ramsey case, arguably one of the most famous and high-profile cases in the world. It never went to trial and the efforts to get legal closure on that case appear to be ongoing [but doomed] to the present day.
About two months after the murders, the Times-Call quoted Boulder’s former District Attorney Stan Garnett at length on the Watts case:
Defense attorneys for a Frederick man accused of killing his wife and daughters have filed a motion asking the government to investigate whether the prosecution has made extrajudicial statements or tried to prevent the spread of prejudicial information.
While the motion itself does not appear on the Weld County District Court’s website, a court order asking the prosecution to respond to the motion was recently posted after being filed on Aug. 29. Stan Garnett, the former district attorney for Boulder County, said it is not unusual for the defense to raise such issues early on, especially in high-profile cases.
The case of Christopher Watts, 33, is certainly high profile, having garnered national headlines for weeks…While it’s standard to point out potential to prejudice a jury , Garnett said the wording of the motion — requiring “the government” to investigate the issue — is unusual. It raises an issue, as the district attorney’s office is part of the executive branch of the state. “If you’re asking them to be investigated, who would do it?” Garnett said.
The prosecution had until Sept. 5 to file a response to the motion, though a response is not yet included on the case’s page online. While the court case is still in its early stages and little information has been released, a number of news outlets have reported new details on the case, citing “sources close to the investigation.” It’s doubtful many more details will be released before Christopher Watts’ next court appearance on Nov. 19.
Krista Henery, community relations director for the Weld County District Attorney’s Office, said staff members in her office are following court orders. Prosecutors are required to follow the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, which forbids them from saying something outside of court that could create prejudice in a legal proceeding. Other than charging documents and press conferences discussing the arrest affidavit, the district attorney hasn’t released any more information.
Frederick police Detective Dave Baumhover said the department also has a policy against making extrajudicial statements. Henery and Baumhover said they can’t speak for other agencies involved in the case, which include the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI declined to comment on the issue and referred questions to the district attorney and Frederick police. CBI did not return a phone call seeking comment. However, if anyone from the prosecution is making extrajudicial statements, Garnett said the onus would fall on the district attorney, who is tasked with ensuring law enforcement complies with the rules.
The 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case that spurred the creation of such rules — Sheppard v. Maxwell— ended in an overturned murder conviction due to the pervasive publicity and incriminating information not presented at trial. In that case, prosecutors were “just kinda constantly playing to the press on it,” Garnett said, which is why district attorneys are now careful about what they say outside of court. “What the rules are trying to do is strike a balance between protecting the defendant’s right to be tried by an impartial jury and the public’s right to know,” he said.
It all sounds very reasonable, but so did District Attorney Alex Hunter when he was handling the Ramsey case. 22 years later, Hunter is still making excuses while he should not be involved in ongoing lawsuits related the case he played a key role in shutting down the legal process in 2000.
Why would it be necessary to shut down a high-profile criminal trial in Greeley? Surely it has nothing to with the odds of getting a conviction. In the Watts case, law enforcement have a confession for one of the murders, how much more would they need?
I don’t believe the Ramsey case was shut down because of lack of evidence or lack of confidence, but that that case would be bad for business. I won’t go into detail here about what that meant [in terms of the Ramsey case], but I will say what it means in the Watts case.
Just as the unspoken backstory to the Ramsey case was John Ramsey’s massive billion dollar business empire with links to Lockheed Martin [America and the world’s largest defense contractor], the Watts case involves links to one of the most lucrative shale operations in America and the world. Most important Weld County is the number one producer of oil and gas in Colorado.
Does Colorado want a high-profile case in their midst that’s going to direct massive publicity [and negative publicity] not only onto Weld County, but through CERVI 319 onto the dynamics of the in situ oil industry as a whole?
A plea deal coming this Tuesday is very definitely on the cards.
A plea agreement means settlement of case without main hearing when the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge or for a more lenient sentence and/or for dismissal of certain related charges.