Gage Roush court appearance

Gage Roush appears in court for a bond hearing Friday at the Law and Justice Center in Bozeman.

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Another West Yellowstone man has been arrested in connection to the torturing of a 12-year-old boy who was found dead earlier this month at his home near West Yellowstone.

Gage Roush, 18, is charged with felony assault on a minor in connection to the death of James Alex Hurley. Roush appeared with attorney Buddy Rutzke in Gallatin County Justice Court before Judge Bryan Adams. His bail was set at $50,000.

Hurley’s grandparents, James Sasser Jr. and Patricia Batts, and uncle, 14-year-old James Sasser III, are each charged with felony deliberate homicide in connection to Hurley’s death. They appeared in court earlier this week.

Bail was set at $500,000 for Sasser Jr. and Sasser III., and $750,000 for Batts.

A Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a report of Hurley’s death on Feb. 3 at a Buffalo Drive home near Hebgen Lake, where Hurley’s 18-year-old aunt and 6-year-old uncle also live. The deputy asked for help from the sheriff’s detectives division after finding the circumstances of the boy’s death were suspicious.

During the investigation into Hurley’s death, Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies found a video on Hurley’s uncle’s phone recorded in January that showed Roush striking Hurley with a wooden paddle, according to charging documents. Hurley can be seen crying and heard screaming “I (expletive) hate this.”

Sasser III told detectives that Roush was the man in the video hitting Hurley, court documents say.

A detective saw Roush at Hurley’s grandparents’ hearing in court on Thursday.

Roush admitted to detectives that he was the person in the video hitting Hurley, according to charging documents. Roush said he also forced Hurley to remain sitting against a wall while he hit Hurley.

On a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Facebook post about the arrests, Roush commented that he’s known the family for 14 years and that they’ve “never hurt their kids in any way shape or form.” The sheriff responded to the comment that Roush had been taken into custody.

In court on Friday, prosecutor Bradley Bowen asked that Judge Adams impose a bail of $150,000 and that he have no contact with co-defendants in the case or anyone under 18.

“As the court knows, it is unacceptable to strike or otherwise brutalize a child,” Bowen said.

Rutzke argued that the prosecution’s request for bail was a request “to deny him bond by putting an unreasonable amount in place.” He asked that Roush’s bail be set at $5,000.

If convicted, Roush could face up to 40 years in prison and up to a $50,000 fine. He remained in the county jail later Friday. His arraignment in District Court will be scheduled at a later date.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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