In a jailhouse interview televised Thursday, 30-year-old California mother Liliana Carrillo – who is said to be a “prime suspect” in the deaths of her three children last weekend – claimed she killed the children to protect the kids from an allegedly abusive father.
The nearly 30-minute-long interview with Carrillo was posted online by KGET-TV of Bakersfield. The woman, wearing Kern County Jail garb and a cast on her left arm, bursts into tears about 11 and a half minutes into the video.
“I loved my kids,” she says, crying. “Like I said, I wish that this didn’t have to be the case.”
“I know they’re not going to be hurt anymore, that’s all that matters to me,” she adds later.
The father, identified as Erik Denton of Porterville, has not been charged in connection with the case. He tried in February to obtain custody of the children, claiming Carrillo was delusional, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.
Denton was said to be “devastated” after learning of the children’s deaths.
Earlier in Thursday’s TV interview, Carrillo explained what happened last Saturday morning before her mother found the children dead in Carrillo’s Reseda apartment and called police.
“I drowned them,” Carrillo tells a KGET reporter, claiming she was shielding the children from Denton and an alleged sex trafficking ring.
“I didn’t want them to be further abused,” she adds later. “I promised them when they were born that I was going to protect them and I already saw what was happening, I already knew what was going on and I knew what was going to continue to happen.”
Police arrested Carrillo later Saturday in Ponderosa for an alleged carjacking. Carrillo appeared in court Wednesday in Bakersfield and pleaded not guilty in connection with the carjacking charge, FOX 11 reported.
She has not been charged in the children’s deaths but bail for her was set at $2 million after Kern County Assistant District Attorney Joseph Kinzel argued she was a flight risk, the station reported.
Carrillo identified the children as Joanna, 3; Terry, 2; and Sierra, 5 months old. She claims she took their lives “softly” as she drowned them.
“I hugged them and I kissed them and I’m apologizing the whole time,” she says. “I loved my kids, I loved my kids.”
In Thursday’s TV interview, Carrillo claims she suffered from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder but was under no medication at the time of the children’s deaths and had given up smoking marijuana in February.
“I wish my kids were alive, yes,” she adds later. “Do I wish that I didn’t have to [kill them]? Yes. But I prefer them not being tortured and abused on a regular basis for the rest of their lives.”
“I know what I did,” she adds later. “It’s horrible and I hate it and I hate myself for it but like I said I wasn’t about to have them off to be continuously tortured and abused.”
The case remains under investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.