Former Rep. Watkins Avoids Prison

Former U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins (search) pleaded no contest Monday to two counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide (search) in connection with a traffic accident that killed a Stillwater couple.

A judge sentenced Watkins to three months on each count but deferred the sentences and ordered they run concurrently.

As long as Watkins commits no offense in that time, he won't face detention.

"I pray for mercy and forgiveness for my part in the accident," Watkins said in a statement after the proceeding. "I pray daily for the Cullens. The families have provided letters and affidavits requesting dismissal of my case and I am truly thankful for their requests."

Watkins, R-Okla., said he pleaded no contest to avoid a long, painful trial.

Prosecutors charged Watkins after the April 19 deaths of Brian and Ardith Cullen. They were killed when a minivan Watkins was driving collided with their car, pushing it into the path of a tractor-trailer and another car, investigators said.

The accident injured Meagan Cullen, 4, and her younger sister Lindsey Cullen, 3, two of the couple's daughters. A third daughter, Ashlee Cullen, 9, was not involved in the accident.

Watkins reached a $2 million settlement earlier this year with the Cullen children over the fatal collision, according to court documents.