CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time the family of a 9-year-old boy accused of arson and charged just this week with five counts of first degree murder is speaking to the media.

Investigators say the boy intentionally set fore to his family home in downstate Eureka last April, but his mother said he’s not the monster people think he is.

“People make mistakes, and that’s what this is,” Katie Alwood said. “Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”

The fire killed Alwood’s two other children, her grandmother, her fiance and her 2-year-old niece, Rose.

They were sleeping when the flames swept through. Only Alwood escaped.

She forgives Kyle, but her sister, Rose’s mother, says, “No way.”

“I think he should go somewhere until he’s legal age to go to juvie,” Samantha Alwood said. “Then I think he should go to juvie, and then from juvie to prison because at the end of the day, whether he meant to or not, he knew what fire did.”

The family says Kyle had shown an interest in lighters and fire before.

He’s scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 21.

The local prosecutor is defending the decision to file murder charges but says the 9-year-old is likely to face only probation.