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If Chris Watts WAS coerced, he should rescind the plea deal – but will he?

What is it with these families and chewing gum? Frank Rzucek chewed gum while addressing a press conference in Greeley, following Chris Watts’ second appearance in court. During her FaceTime interview with Fox31’s Keagan Harsha, Cindy Watts is also chewing gum while telling Harsha how much she loves her son “no matter what”.

Do these people realize how casual they look and sound when this is a triple murder involving their own children and grandchildren?

At 1:22 in the clip below, Cindy Watts says, “Yes, I-I-I wanna talk to him, we haven’t been able to talk to him…” If it’s true that Watts’ parents haven’t been allowed to talk to their son, then that and the ongoing solitary confinement could be seen as a form of duress, a legal circumstance that speaks to the “voluntariness” of a legal settlement.

In order for a legal document to be valid, all parties must enter into it freely. If there is coercion, or allegations of coercion, these can cast a serious legal shadow over the legality of a case. Any agreement that is coerced is null and void.

We’ve seen this play out over and over again in true crime, for example in the Amanda Knox case where she said she was coerced into making statements, and by Brendan Dassey, who claimed while he wasn’t physically coerced or threatened, he was tricked into doing so.

To date Cindy Watts has been quoted by the Denver Post, The Daily Beast and the Times-Call saying: “I know he confessed, but he was railroaded into it.” It’s fascinating that the District Attorney hasn’t responded directly to these allegations thus far. Playing for time?

The Denver Post has provided some legal analysis on this point:

Denver attorney H. Michael Steinberg said that if Christopher Watts wishes to withdraw his guilty plea, it is possible the judge would consider that before his sentencing, which is scheduled for Monday. But he would have to offer a better explanation than just the fact that he changed his mind. One possibly valid reason would be that Christopher Watts has not received a psychological evaluation, Steinberg said.

“That would be a significant issue. This case is so high profile the judge may want to make sure everything was done appropriately,” Steinberg said.

Indeed. The case simply needs to follow due process. If in retrospect that’s found not to be the case, and if Watts appeals, he could argue he was placed under duress, was depressed or in despair and wasn’t able – or given the opportunity – to make a properly informed decision.

If the plea deal is an effort to avoid a court case but ends up precipitating one, then the plea deal makes no sense, does it? Then a criminal trial is the logical legal end result to resolve this  very high-profile and very serious crime.

According to the Times-Call:

Cynthia Watts said she and her husband repeatedly tried to speak with their son alone, but his attorneys wouldn’t let them. On one occasion, when she said, “Chris, you did not do this. Don’t confess,” she said her son’s attorneys ended the conversation immediately. “They stonewalled him. My son deserved to be defended,” Cynthia Watts said.

She said her son’s attorneys told her, “We just want to save his life.” But Cynthia Watts said her son deserves much more than that. “This is outrageous to me.” Cynthia Watts described her son as someone who never lost his temper and always did what his wife asked of him, “running, not walking.”

“How does he go from a decent person to a killer?” she asked. “If he won’t fight for his daggone self, I will.”

On the other hand, if Chris Watts maintains he was treated fairly, was of sound mind, and his decision to plea is entirely voluntary, then the plea and the sentence stands.



  1. Tammy

    I don’t believe he will rescind his plea deal. I am on the fence about whether he is trying to prevent his secrets from getting out, or the autopsy reports are so damning that it shows opoid metabolites in the girls’ systems. If metabolites are present, this would prove he administered drugs earlier in the evening. In other words, premeditation on his part clearing Shanann. As far as secrets getting out, i am guessing he doesn’t want his parents hearing this.

  2. Sam

    I mean yes, all the parties must be allowed to talk freely about the plea etc.
    But we are talking about a 33 years-old man.
    His parents are not legally responsible for his decision and it is even possible that Chris himself didn’t want to talk to his parents. I doubt I would want

  3. Kaye

    His parents definitely have not received access to autopsy info, right? Only the attorneys and Chris know what is in them at this point? That’s what I am assuming but is that known for sure? If they flat out asked Chris’s attorneys about what the autopsies showed, could the attorneys say anything? I would think they would want to be assured they weren’t damning to Chris before arguing he has a case.

  4. Tammy

    I would think sealed reports would mean only for the courts and attorneys could view the details. They wouldn’t risk the parents potentially leaking the information. I am not for sure, but makes sense. I believe defendants are allowed to know, and I wonder if this is why the plea. I wonder if the first plea deal was to only plea to the death of Shanann, but not the girl’s. I would think the DA would turn this away immediately, if the autopsy reports were indicative of premeditation. It really makes one wonder what is so shocking about these reports? Can it be anymore shocking than disposing of your own flesh and blood in crude oil tanks.

  5. Nick

    If any of the bodies were dismembered then one can see how Watts himself would see it as a valid death penalty case. Then making a plea makes more sense.

  6. Pauline

    Watts should rescind his plea deal. But not because of Cindy Watt’s desperate pleas as a mother, but because they have secured him a good defense attorney. I mean Casey had Jose Baez, who was an unknown, who happened by (likely chasing ambulances down by the court house) – why not send out a request to any interested attorney wishing to gain fame after a court battle. He shouldn’t have been intimidated by a possible death sentence – we already know now Polis would have commuted it to life – same difference as what he’s going to get now not fighting it. That he caved to his own attorney’s wishes shows what kind of guy he is on the inside – nothing other than a simple man who is unable to correct his dissatisfaction in life in constructive ways and one who pretends to go along to get along until he rationalizes he’s better off going it alone. Chris has no stomach for the direct approach, which is how you see him now – giving up.

    • nickvdl

      Great find MVm, thanks.

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