Montana woman pleads guilty to role in 12-year-old grandson’s abuse death

A woman pleaded guilty Friday to killing her 12-year-old grandson by partaking in abuse and failing to seek medical care for his injuries.


The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Patricia Batts entered the plea for charges of deliberate homicide, criminal child endangerment, and tampering with a witness or informant in connection with the February 2020 death of James “Alex” Hurley. She faces life in prison for the homicide charge.


Batts reportedly admitted in court that her son, James Sasser III, beat Hurley with a wooden paddle and she allowed the abuse to occur in her home. She also reportedly beat him as well. The autopsy showed Hurley suffered a blow to the back of his head and had bruising all over his body.


The family members even duct taped themselves to Hurley in an attempt to prevent him from running away.


Sasser III, who was 14 years old at the time of Hurley’s death, pleaded guilty in October 2020 to deliberate homicide and was sentenced to remain in juvenile detention until he turns 18. After that, he will be under supervision until he is 21, KBZK-TV reports.


Court documents cited by Montana Right Now said Sasser III revealed to investigators he “made a paddle out of wood with a blue-taped handle and would hit the victim multiple times with it, mostly on the buttocks but sometimes other places.”


Batts said Sasser III and Hurley got into a “bad fight” Jan. 27, 2020, that turned into a “bloodbath.” Sasser III reportedly admitted to kicking Hurley in the head.


Hurley was found dead at Batts’ home near Yellowstone on Feb. 3, 2020, and at the time, Gallatin County deputies arrested Batts, her husband James Sasser Jr., and Sasser III. Sasser Jr. was sentenced to 100 years in prison in March 2022 after pleading guilty to deliberate homicide, felony child endangerment, and tampering with evidence.


Batts will be sentenced July 11.

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