A “Riverdale” actor who pleaded guilty to shooting his mom in the back of the head while she was playing the piano is now concerned about his own safety behind bars, according to his attorney.
Vancouver-based defense attorney Chris Johnson told Fox News that 24-year-old Ryan Grantham is concerned he could be “abused by other prisoners” because of his “diminutive” stature and “young-looking” appearance.
"When people plead guilty to a crime, it doesn't mean they're saying, 'Sure, I'll be raped and abused by other prisoners.' That's not part of the deal," Johnson said.
Grantham was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 14 years, in the March 31, 2020 death of his 64-year-old mother Barbara Waite.
Johnson said he is planning to request that Grantham serve out his sentence at a medium-security prison rather than a maximum-security facility after the judge in the case suggested the request be submitted to the director of prisons.
"All the judge in our case could do is make a recommendation," Johnson explained, adding that the final decision of where a prisoner is housed is left to correctional authorities.
Typically, inmates convicted of first- and second-degree murder are sent to maximum security prisons, but Johnson expressed concerns that Grantham’s boyish appearance could make him a target to other prisoners.
According to Johnson, the actor weighs “about 100 pounds” is 5 feet, 2 inches tall and “looks like a 17-year-old.”
“My biggest concern is that he will be preyed upon by other prisoners and perhaps abused by them,” he said. “We send people to prison to be both punished and rehabilitated. And so I'm hopeful that the latter can take place. We don't send people to prison so they can be punished by other prisoners."
Johnson said he’s “just doing what I can” to try to protect Grantham so he can serve out his time without incident.
Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images
"This kid is obviously going to be punished. And, you know, he got a life sentence. He’s going to be in jail for at least 14 years. But that doesn’t mean that he deserves to be abused by other prisoners,” he said.
The actor, who has appeared in “Riverdale,” “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Supernatural,” killed his mother at their Squamish, British Columbia home by shooting her in the back of the head as she played piano, then drank beer and smoked marijuana, the BBC reports.
The following day, Grantham covered his mother’s body with a sheet and lit a series of candles he arranged around the body before packing up his car with three guns, 12 Molotov cocktails and ammunition, according to the media outlet CBC.
He had allegedly planned to kill Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his Rideau Cottage residence, prosecutors said, according to the BBC, but turned around after a few hours. Grantham also allegedly considered carrying out a mass shooting at Simon Fraser University, where he was a student, but ultimately decided to turn himself into police for his mother’s death.
Talia Armstrong, another attorney representing the former actor, told E! News Grantham had felt a sense of relief after the sentence was handed down.
“Ryan’s been anticipating the sentencing for quite some time so there was somewhat a relief to not have to be back in court.” she said, adding it had been beneficial “to know what he’s up against for the next couple years and just to have the sentence complete at this point.”
Grantham had been facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years, so Armstrong said their client is “grateful” he’ll be given a chance to apply for parole after 14 years.
“This whole time he’s been accepting of whatever sentence the court found it, which ties into how remorseful he feels,” she said.
According to Armstrong, Grantham wants to “move past this dark time” in his life and has been working on his mental health behind bars, writing and reading.
“Ultimately, he just wants to move on from this,” she said. “He just wants to be able to positively contribute to the world, even if that’s just improving his own mental health.”