A lawyer for a Colorado man suspected in the deaths of his pregnant wife and two young daughters says the daughters’ bodies were submerged in crude oil for four days before they were found.
Defense attorney James Merson made the statement in a court motion Friday. The motion asks a judge to order that DNA samples be taken from the children’s throats.
In another motion, Merson asks that DNA samples be taken from the hands and nails of the body of the girls’ mother.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the judge ruled on the motions.
Thirty-three-year-old Christopher Watts was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of murder. On Thursday, investigators found the bodies of his wife, Shanann Watts, and their daughters, ages 3 and 4.
Investigators haven’t publicly discussed a motive.
Watts is being held without bail. He’s expected to be formally charged by Monday.
Accusations that a man killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters is prompting questions about Colorado’s lack of a law allowing homicide charges in the violent deaths of fetuses.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado is among 12 states without such a law.
Prosecutors are expected to charge Chris Watts on Monday. Watts was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of three counts of murder.
Violent crimes have prompted debate before in Colorado, including in 2015 after a woman cut open a pregnant woman’s belly and removed her unborn baby.
Proposals to change the law have been stymied by debate about when a fetus can legally be considered a human being.
Colorado does allow a homicide charge if a fetus was alive outside the mother’s body and then killed.
Shanann Watts painted a rosy portrait of her family on Facebook, calling her husband and the father of her two young daughters her “rock” and writing that he was “the best dad us girls could ask for.”
But that idyllic image was shattered Wednesday when her husband, 33-year-old Christopher Watts, was arrested on suspicion of killing his family.
Shanann Watts, who was pregnant, and the couple’s 3-year-old and 4-year-old daughters were found dead in northern Colorado on Thursday.
No motive has been released, leaving family and friends searching for answers.
A June 2015 bankruptcy filing captures a picture of a family dealing with financial strain.
Christopher Watts, who is being held without bail, is expected to be formally charged by Monday.