By CBSLA Staff

SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) — Family members are breaking their silence nearly a month after a man is accused of stabbing his estranged wife to death in Santa Clarita.

The man, identified as 43-year-old James Matthew Dorsey, pleaded no contest earlier this week.

Dorsey is accused of driving from Washington state, breaking into his estranged wife Michelle Dorsey’s home, and murdering her while her sons, 13, 11, and 9 years old, slept nearby.

Michelle Dorsey and her three sons in an undated photo (Source: GoFundMe)

He was arrested on the night of April 15 after a more than three-hour standoff.

“Getting me through is the boys. You know you have to be strong for them because I know she would’ve wanted that,” said Michelle Dorsey’s mother Cheryl Smith.

Over the last several weeks, Smith has been a caretaker to the three young grandsons survived by Michelle Dorsey.

According to Smith, James Dorsey had other plans on how to kill his estranged wife but that Michelle Dorsey put up a fight.

“He planned to come down, kidnap her, take her to the desert, kill her in the desert so we would never find her,” Smith said.  “The idea of the fear and the pain that must’ve gone through her at that time is hard to think of.”

Michelle Dorsey was able to call 911 and name her killer as James Dorsey before dying from her injuries.

“There was no reason for this. None,” Smith said.

Smith said the couple was going through a divorce and that Michelle Dorsey filed a restraining order against her husband after he allegedly threatened her life in 2019.

On Monday, James Dorsey pleaded no contest to murder, attempted kidnapping, first-degree burglary, fleeing police and resisting arrest.

Sheriff’s detectives and Michelle Dorsey’s family have expressed outrage that prosecutors did not include sentencing enhancements that could have gotten James Dorsey sentenced to life without parole. They say that won’t happen because of District Attorney George Gascon’s special directives.

“He would be possible for parole in 23 years is not okay with me,” Smith said. “He plotted the whole thing, he knew what he was doing, and he didn’t care about his boys so he should not be able to come out. He should be locked away forever.”

To donate to assist with funds that Michelle Dorsey’s three sons will need moving forward after their recent family tragedy, please visit The Santa Clarita Coalition or GoFundMe.

“She would’ve wanted all of us to take care of them, she would’ve wanted all of us to be there for them and make sure they grow up happy,” Smith said.