Colorado dad Chris Watts, accused of killing his wife and daughters, has been ordered to give up cheek swabs and copies of his handprints and footprints

By Adam Carlson
September 28, 2018 11:33 AM
Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post

Colorado father Chris Watts, accused of murdering his pregnant wife and their two young daughters, has been ordered to give up cheek swabs and copies of his handprints and footprints as well as photographs of his hands to assist prosecutors in testing evidence, PEOPLE confirms.

The prosecution had sought to obtain such identifying information from the 33-year-old in two motions filed earlier this month.

They noted then that “numerous items of evidence have been collected and are in the process of being sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for testing.” For example, “possible bare foot impressions” were found on a non-porous bag found near where 34-year-old Shan’ann Watts, Chris’ wife, and children Bella and Celeste were discovered dead in August.

The judge in Chris’ case granted the prosecution motions on Wednesday.

Chris’ attorney had objected to the requests, arguing they were unconstitutional and lacking probable cause, forcing Chris to incriminate himself and submit to “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

In siding with the prosecution, Marcelo A. Kopcow noted that he had previously found probable cause in order to allow Chris’ arrest for murder.

Kopcow described the requested procedures as “minimal intrusions” on Chris that would help establish “complete and accurate forensic testing and analysis.” Such benefits — to prosecutors as well as, possibly, the defense — were clearly compelling, he found.

Shan’ann Watts (center) and her daughters
From left: Shan’ann and Chris Watts
| Credit: Shanann Watts /Facebook

“Based on the totality of the circumstances the collection of the requested … evidence is justified,” Kopcow ruled.

Chris was arrested late on Aug. 15, two days after his wife, then 15 weeks pregnant, and daughters disappeared. Authorities announced within hours that their dead bodies had been found at an oil work site owned by Chris’ former employer.

Among other crimes, Chris faces charges of first-degree murder in all three deaths.

He has not yet entered a plea and remains behind bars. His public defender is barred by office policy from discussing the case.

However, the arrest affidavit prepared by police shows Chris allegedly confessed to killing Shan’ann at their home, in Frederick, but only after watching her strangle Celeste, 3, with 4-year-old Bella apparently lifeless nearby, he claimed.

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The legitimacy of that confession and its underlying explanation of the deaths, as described by investigators, could be a central dispute in the case as it winds its way to trial.

A source close to the investigation previously told PEOPLE there was “absolutely no evidence that [Shan’ann] killed her children, none at all.”

“There is physical evidence to tie him to their murders,” the source said. “Strangulation is a very personal way to kill someone, with a lot of physical contact. Just based on the preliminary evidence, everything is consistent with him killing them all.”

Chris is due back in court in November.