Woman sentenced to life in prison for her 12-year-old grandson’s murder

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A woman has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of James “Alex” Hurley, 12, in West Yellowstone, Montana, in 2020.

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Patricia Batts, 51, was charged with criminal endangerment, homicide, and tampering with witness informants relating to her grandson’s death on Feb. 3, 2020, according to KTVM.

Batts pleaded guilty in May to “deliberate homicide,”, according to The Associated Press. In an agreement, prosecutors dropped their plans to seek the death penalty.

Batts also pleaded guilty to criminal child endangerment after she reportedly failed to get medical assistance for Hurley after he was injured, the AP reported. The witness tampering charge was due to her trying to get other family members to make false statements, the Department of Justice said. Each charge comes with a 10-year sentence.

Batts was sentenced Tuesday, according to the AP.

Hurley was found dead inside his grandparents’ house, according to KBZK. Hurley’s grandfather, James Sasser Jr. was also charged and sentenced to 100 years in prison for “deliberate homicide” in March last year.

Hurley’s uncle, James Sasser III, 15, was accused of causing the injuries that led to Hurley’s death. According to the news outlet, he accepted a plea deal in October 2020.

An autopsy was conducted into Hurley’s death and it found that he died from blunt force trauma to the back of his head. Court records said, according to the AP, that Hurley also had bruises and other injuries over his body. Gallatin County prosecutors claimed that Hurley was denied food and was beaten. Investigators reportedly found videos on cellphones of Hurley was seen being tortured and punished.

Hurley was living with his grandparents after his father had died, the AP reported.

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