The mother of Chris Watts is worried about how her triple-murderer son will fare in prison, she said in a recent interview.
“He’s going to die in prison,” Cindy Watts said in an interview alongside Chris’ father, Ronnie, with local Denver ABC affiliate KMGH. (Different excerpts from the interview were published by other ABC affiliates.)
“There’s no telling what would be done to him in prison. I just want him to fight,” Watts’ mother added.
Shan’ann was about 15 weeks pregnant with a son at the time, and her family later said she planned to name him Niko Lee.
Cindy Watts said in the interview she wishes her son had not admitted to the charges against him.
“I asked Chris, ‘If you did not do this, do not confess to something you didn’t do,'” she told the station. “[His attorney] shut me down. She completely shut me down.”
When the reporter asked Cindy if she believed her son was coerced into pleading guilty, she didn’t have an answer.
“I don’t know. I have no idea,” she said. “To me, all they wanted to do was save his life, just save his life. Save his life and life in prison — to me there’s no difference. He’s going to die in prison. I just want him to fight. I don’t want him to take this plea deal. I want him to plead not guilty to [killing] the children.”
In the interview, Watts’ parents also claimed he was in an abusive relationship with Shan’ann. They claimed Watts changed when he married her and that Shan’ann isolated Chris from his family.
“It was a very hard relationship,” Cindy Watts said. “It was a very hard relationship with her as far as I’m concerned. I couldn’t do anything right.”
Shan’ann’s parents reportedly issued a rebuttal describing Watts’ parents’ claims as “vicious, grotesque and utterly false.”
After his August arrest, under police questioning, Chris allegedly said he would “tell the truth” after investigators told him they found out he was having an affair with a co-worker, according to an affidavit supporting his arrest that was unsealed in late August.
Chris then admitted he killed Shan’ann after flying “into a rage” when, he claimed, he saw her strangling one of their daughters via a baby monitor after he had told her he wanted a separation, according to the arrest affidavit.
• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.
But in court earlier this month, Chris pleaded to nine charges, according to prosecutors: five counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawful termination of pregnancy and three counts of tampering with a dead body.
In pleading guilty, Chris essentially admitted his earlier explanation was a lie.
He will be formally sentenced to life in prison on Monday.
In their reported statement in response to Watts’ parents claims, Shan’ann’s parents said, “On Monday evening, the parents of Chris Watts gave an interview in which they attempted to defend their son. In doing so, they felt the need to make vicious, grotesque and utterly false statements about [Shan’ann]. Their false statements, however hurtful and inaccurate, will never alter the truth about [Shan’ann], and will never alter the truth about the crimes committed by their son, Chris Watts.”
Reached by PEOPLE, Shan’ann’s father declined to comment further. Chris’ parents did not return a call.