'Riverdale' actor and convicted murderer Ryan Grantham fears for his safety in maximum-security prison: lawyer

Andrew Chin/Getty Images (Getty Images)

"Riverdale" actor and convicted murderer Ryan Grantham is worried about his safety if he serves his sentence in a maximum-security prison, according to his lawyer, Chris Johnson.

The 24-year-old Canadian was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 14 years after he pled guilty to the second-degree murder of his mother Barbara Waite.

Johnson told Fox News Digital Grantham could be at a higher risk of abuse in prison due to his "diminutive" stature and "young-looking" appearance.

The Vancouver-based criminal defense lawyer said the issue was first raised during court proceedings by the judge who presided over Grantham's case, Justice Kathleen Ker.

According to Johnson, Justice Ker requested that corrections authorities send Grantham to a medium-security prison instead of a maximum-security facility.

Johnson said he shares her concern over Grantham's safety as the former child actor is 5-foot-2, weighs "about 100 pounds" 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. 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 explained that, in the Canadian court system, the court has no authority to determine which institution an offender serves time. He said once an offender is sentenced, correction authorities have jurisdiction over that decision.

"All the judge in our case could do is make a recommendation," Johnson said. 

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) operates prisons at three levels of security: maximum, medium and minimum. Corrections authorities assess several factors before determining which security level is most appropriate for the offender.

"Almost inevitably a person convicted of murder in the first-degree or second-degree will go to a maximum-security prison for at least two years," Johnson said. 

He added that Justice Ker asked "to find out whether that was absolute or whether there was any exception to that."

"And we did find out that there could possibly be an exception to that, which is you can make a request to the director of prisons," Johnson said. "And, so essentially, she asked us to do that."

Johnson said that he planned to send the request to the director of prisons this week. He told Fox News Digital Grantham was being held at the North Fraser Regional Pre-trial Centre in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, pending his trial. 

He will now be transferred to the Pacific Institution, a maximum, medium and minimum federal penitentiary in Abbotsford, British Columbia, until correctional authorities classify him.

Johnson said Grantham has experienced "almost no issues" in prison.

"But in pretrial, there's a very high staff to prisoner ratio, and people are supervised quite closely," Johnson said. "And that's not the case when you go to maximum security. There's less supervision."

According to Johnson, Grantham is "apprehensive" about entering a maximum-security prison, adding, "I think he's just apprehensive about that because of his age and appearance."

Johnson said he was concerned about his client's safety because the inmates who are incarcerated in maximum-security prisons are "people who murder other people, gang-related people, dangerous offenders, sexual predators, people like that."

Despite Grantham pleading guilty to second-degree murder, he should not be subjected to abuse while in prison, the lawyer said.

"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.

"I'm just doing what I can. I'm not asking for any special treatment. This kid obviously is 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.

"I like to say that I did what I could to prevent that."

On March 31, 2020, Grantham shot his 64-year-old mother in the back of the head while she was playing piano at their home in Squamish, British Columbia. Prosecutors said the next day he loaded his car with guns and Molotov cocktails before driving to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's home with the aim of assassinating Trudeau.

Grantham said that he changed his mind and decided to commit a mass shooting at his college, Simon Fraser University. He ultimately did not go through with either act and instead turned himself into Vancouver Police and admitted to killing his mother.

Authorities say Grantham was motivated to murder his mother so she would not have to witness the other violent acts he intended to commit.

The "Diary of A Wimpy Kid" actor was initially charged with first-degree murder. However, Johnson told Fox News Digital that Grantham underwent a psychiatric assessment that indicated he was suffering from mental health disorders, including major depression, which enabled him to plead guilty to the lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Get updates on this story from FoxNews.com.