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Grandmother Could Face Death Penalty In Alleged 'Systematic Torture And Beatings' Of 12-Year-Old Grandson

Patricia Batts and other family members allegedly documented the abuse of James Alex Hurley in a series of disturbing video clips leading up to the child’s death, according to authorities.

By Dorian Geiger
Family Members Charged in Torture and Murder of Montana Boy

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a Montana grandmother who’s accused of carrying out the “systematic torture” of a 12-year-old boy.

Patricia Batts, 48, was charged in the murder of her grandson, James Alex Hurley, whose emaciated and beaten body was found in February. Gallatin County Attorney’s Office filed papers last week indicating they would pursue capital punishment against Batts, according to Great Falls television station KRTV

“I believe the systematic torture and beatings [were] perpetrated on the victim in this case that led to his death,” Gallatin County Deputy Attorney Bjorn Boyer said earlier this year, KTVH-DT reported.

When authorities found the dead child, he had a number of suspicious wounds on his body, including a mysterious gash on the back of his head, according to a criminal complaint previously obtained by Oxygen.com. There appeared to be “severe” bruising on his buttocks, detectives said. A “large” amount of blood appeared to have been previously scrubbed up.

James Hurley Pd

A medical examiner’s initial findings indicated the child had likely died from blunt force trauma to the head.

A number of family members were subsequently charged in the boy’s murder, including Batts, his grandfather, James Sasser Jr. and his 14-year-old uncle.

The family often filmed the disturbing episodes of chronic child abuse, authorities allege. 

Batts allegedly can be seen strangling and striking the 12-year-old in the video footage. Other disturbing clips showed the Montana youth being forced to do jumping jacks and other exercises until he sobbed. 

“Who cares?” Batts allegedly said to her grandson after he can be seen complaining that his head hurt in a separate video. 

The family allegedly locked food away to prevent the youngster from getting it, the criminal complaint also stated. 

Prosecutors are still deliberating over whether to charge the boy's uncle as a juvenile or adult, local media reported.

Batts’ is being held on a bail of $750,000, according to KXLF-TV.