Skip to main content

Grandfather Pleads Guilty to His Role in Torturing 12-Year-Old James Alex Hurley to Death

James Alex Hurley

James Alex Hurley

A grandfather pleaded guilty on Friday as one of the people who killed 12-year-old James Alex Hurley, leaving the man’s wife as the sole remaining defendant. James Sasser Jr. admitted to a count of felony deliberate homicide, according to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

The child was found dead Feb. 3, 2020. Hurley’s own family abused him, authorities have said. It was torture. His teenage uncle James Sasser III previously took a plea deal last year to deliberate homicide, getting juvenile detention and some adult probation in return.

Hurley’s young aunt Madison Sasser was sentenced earlier this year for a count of felony aggravated kidnapping, also getting youth probation until 21, then adult probation until 25. In exchange, she agreed to testify against her parents Sasser Jr. and Patricia Batts.

Gage Roush, who is not related to the family, was charged after authorities said he hit James Hurley with a paddle. He pleaded guilty to assault on a minor and received a five-year deferred sentence.

Sasser Jr.’s sentencing is scheduled for November 9. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors want him behind bars for 100 years, which would be served concurrently with a 10-year sentence for criminal child engagement.

That leaves Batts as the sole defendant. Authorities want her dead for charges of deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnapping, criminal child endangerment, and strangulation of a partner or family member. She denied to investigators that she was responsible for her grandson’s death, but she admitted to making him perform “wall sits,” and jumping jacks, authorities said. She allegedly made him stand in front of fans half-naked while being squirted with water. Authorities have said they found videos that depicted the torture of Hurley.

Batts’s attorneys have signaled they want to challenge the death penalty in this case on constitutional grounds.

[Image via Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: