The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Patricia Batts received a life sentence Tuesday, Aug. 22, for the death of James "Alex" Hurley. Gallatin County Judge John Brown also sentenced her to 20 years for criminal child endangerment and tampering with witnesses.
At the sentencing, Brown reportedly said videos showing Hurley being abused "are some of the most horrible things that I’ve seen in my 16 years on the bench."
Hurley lived with Batts and her husband, James Sasser Jr., as well as other relatives. Sasser Jr. was sentenced to 100 years in prison last year for felony deliberate homicide, 10 years for felony child endangerment, and 10 years for tampering with a witness.
Batts, Sasser Jr., and a juvenile who is also Hurley’s uncle were arrested Feb. 12, 2020, on charges related to Hurley’s death. The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office said Hurley died on or about Feb. 3, 2020.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Hurley moved in with his grandparents after his father became paralyzed following an ATV accident. His dad died in 2018, and Hurley stayed in Batts' custody.
James Sasser III, who was 14 years old at the time, hit Hurley with a wooden paddle, which killed him. Batts reportedly told her children to lie to law enforcement about Hurley’s death. The boy had bruises on several parts of his body.
Multiple videos taken from their cellphones reportedly show Hurley’s relatives laughing at him as they taunt him. Sasser Jr. told him, "You’re a nothing, a nobody that no one will ever like. They’ll make fun of you your whole goddamn life."
In another video, a 5-year-old child reportedly played while Hurley was being abused. Deputy county attorney Bjorn Boyer said during Sasser Jr.’s sentencing the 5-year-old was "laughing" and made it seem the abuse was "normal."
Court documents cited by Montana Right Now say some of the abuse entailed Batts, Sasser Jr., and Sasser III making Hurley stand up for extended periods of time. Batts reportedly told detectives Hurley and Sasser III got into a "bad fight" and "bloodbath" Jan. 27. Sasser III confessed to detectives that he kicked Hurley in the head.