Grandmother and Family Tortured and Murdered 12-Year-Old Boy

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A 51-year-old woman from West Yellowstone, Montana received a life sentence for the brutal torture and murder of her 12-year-old grandson.

The sentencing, delivered by District Judge John C. Brown, was based on Patricia Batts’ guilty plea to deliberate homicide. Other family members also pleaded guilty to charges in relation to the death of James Alexander “Alex” Hurley.

Batts’ sentence is the final act in the murder case. Her husband, James Sasser, Jr., 51, was sentenced to 100 years in prison in March 2022 for the crime.

Alex’s 15-year-old uncle, James Sasser III, was accused of directly causing Alex’s death. He accepted a plea deal in October 2020.

The incident occurred on February 3, 2020. 

Batts, who had been his caregiver alongside her husband, was found guilty of failing to provide medical assistance to her fatally injured grandson, thereby pleading guilty to felony criminal child endangerment. 

Additionally, she admitted witness tampering and attempting to manipulate relatives into giving false statements to investigators.

The prosecution had at first considered seeking the death penalty but later reached an agreement that averted that outcome. Batts’ guilty plea led to a 10-year sentence for each of the charges of child endangerment and witness tampering, in addition to the life sentence for deliberate homicide.

Autopsy results revealed that Alex’s cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of his head at the hands of his uncle, further compounded by numerous bruises and wounds on his body. Disturbing videos of the torture, recovered from family members’ cell phones, were presented as evidence during the trial, prompting Judge Brown to describe them as the most “horrific” he had ever encountered.

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