Support Local Journalism


Three of five people charged in connection to a West Yellowstone boy’s death still have cases pending in Gallatin County District Court.

The boy’s aunt and grandfather are scheduled to be in court in January. The boy’s grandmother has a trial set for 2022.

The family members are charged in connection to Hurley’s death after cell phone videos showed some of them beating and torturing him, court documents say. The boy was living with his grandparents at their home on Buffalo Drive near Hebgen Lake. The boy was found dead in February.

Patricia Batts, Hurley’s grandmother, faces several felony charges including deliberate homicide. Her case is scheduled for a 20-day trial to start on May 31, 2022.

In the interim, witnesses will be deposed, attorneys will file motions to shape how the trial will look and a judge will periodically check in with attorneys to ensure that they’ll be ready to go to trial on the scheduled date.

Craig Shannon, Batts’ attorney, did not respond to requests for comment.

Madison Sasser, the boy’s aunt, will be in court Jan. 29 for negligent homicide and aggravated kidnapping, both felony charges.

Madison’s case is scheduled to be in court because a plea agreement has been reached, according to a motion. The motion states that the matter is expected to move to youth court, where Madison will likely be sentenced.

Elisabeth Montoya, attorney for Madison, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The same day, James Sasser Jr., Hurley’s grandfather, will have a status hearing for deliberate homicide and criminal child endangerment, both felony charges. The hearing is scheduled to talk about deadlines and potentially set a new trial date for his case. A trial scheduled for Sasser Jr.’s case was dropped after his attorney was replaced last month.

Nick Brooke, attorney for Sasser Jr., declined to comment on the case.

All three have pleaded not guilty to their respective charges.

In February, Gallatin County deputies found several videos on Batts’ and her son’s phones showing the family torturing Alex at their home on Buffalo Drive near Hebgen Lake, court documents say.

Sasser Jr. initially denied knowing what was happening to the boy, but later admitted knowing about the abuse, court documents say. Police said in charging documents that he also admitted to verbally abusing Hurley and said he thought Batts’ punishments of the boy were excessive.

Madison told detectives that she thought James Sasser III, her brother, caused Hurley’s death, after Sasser III banged Hurley’s head against a wall two days before he was found dead, court documents say. She told detectives that Hurley was disoriented, had memory loss and wasn’t talking “right” after that.

However, police said in charging documents that they found messages from Madison to her boyfriend talking about beating the boy. Madison also told the boyfriend that she would be the “one to talk in his funeral,” court documents say.

Sasser III was sentenced in youth court to the Montana Department of Corrections until he turns 18 as part of a plea agreement. After that he’ll be on probation until he is 25 and is required to pay a $500 fine.

Gage Roush, 19, pleaded guilty in November to assault on a minor. Roush, a friend of the family, was seen on cellphone video taken in January hitting Hurley on the hands with a wooden paddle. On Tuesday, Roush was given a five-year deferred sentence. He is required to complete counseling that is deemed appropriate by his probation officer.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.