James Alex Hurley dead: Montana 12 year old ‘problem child’ systemically exposed to beatings & torture at hands of grandparents & 14 year old uncle.
James Sasser Jr., 47, and Patricia Batts, 48, appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court on Thursday in the Feb. 3 death of James Alex Hurley.
Also charged with murder was the grandparents’ 14 year old son, who because of his age couldn’t be publicly identified.
The boy had been living with his grandparents, two uncles and an aunt in West Yellowstone – near the border of Wyoming and Idaho – for about two years, court records showed.
After his death, investigators said they found evidence, including videos, that indicated Hurley’s grandparents and his 14-year-old uncle ongoing abusing him, including beating the boy with a wooden paddle, strangling him, along with locking up food.
6ft tall 300 pound 14 year old uncle systemic abuse of 5ft 3′ 100 pound boy:
Prosecutors said James had endured ‘systemic torture’ at the hands of his family.
In one episode, Batts and the 14-year-old told investigators that Hurley and his uncle had a ‘bad fight’ on Jan. 27. The uncle said he found Hurley standing over Batts with a knife, according to the court records.
The 14-year-old also acknowledged kicking Hurley in the head multiple times in the 24 to 36 hours before his death, charging documents said.
The uncle is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 300 pounds while Hurley was 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighed about 100 pounds according to charging documents.
Batts said Hurley slept on the floor in the living room and was mumbling and moaning throughout the night before she reported finding him dead the next morning.
But there’s more.
Problematic child whose ‘bad behavior’ escalated:
Prosecutors told of family members declining to seek medical attention for the victim. The autopsy found Hurley had bruising all over his body and dying from trauma to the head.
While admitting to physically abusing the boy, family members claim the boy was problematic and violent. The accused told detectives that Hurley had tried to hurt himself and others on several occasions and he had complained of hearing voices telling him to kill people.
Other instances of ‘problematic’ behavior attributed to the 12 year old included Hurley drinking alcohol and stealing items from the family and stores. Behavior that the victim’s grandmother attributed to the boy’s father passing away KTVQ reports.
Of note, detectives were not able to locate any record of the family reporting the claimed behavior to law enforcement or the family attempting to get medical or psychiatric help for Hurley.
The 14-year-old was charged with deliberate homicide in youth court Wednesday and his bail was set at $500,000, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
The grandparents were charged under the felony murder law, prosecutors alleging the relatives committed felony aggravated assault that contributed to the boy’s death.
Bail was set at $750,000 for Batts and $500,000 for Sasser. Boyer said he sought a higher bail for Batts because he believed her to be more culpable.
Another man, 18-year-old Gage Roush, was arrested last week and charged with felony assault on a minor in connection with Hurley’s death, KBZK reported. He appeared in court on Friday where a judge set his bail at $50,000.