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Death penalty sought in West Yellowstone juvenile torture, slaying

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 5/11/20

A West Yellowstone woman accused of torturing and beating her 12-year-old grandson to death may face the death penalty now that prosecutors in the case are seeking capital punishment, reports the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Patricia Batts is charged with deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnapping, criminal child endangerment and strangulation of partner or family member, all felonies—she’s pleaded not guilt to every count. According to the Chronicle, “Batts’ husband, James Sasser Jr., and her 14-year-old son, James Sasser III, each face deliberate homicide charges. Madison Sasser, Batts’ daughter, is charged with aggravated kidnapping and negligent homicide. Gage Roush, a family friend, is charged with felony assault on a minor after prosecutors said he was seen on video hitting the boy with a wooden paddle,” but prosecutors are seeking the harshest punishment available for Batts’ alleged role in teaching and encouraging her family to do so, along with inventing and carrying out a number of those torture methods, which include wall sits, jumping jacks and standing half naked on a fan while being sprayed with water. The victim, Alex Hurley, was pronounced dead in February due to blunt force trauma to the head. Video found on Batts’ and Sasser III’s phones depict instances of torture at the family’s home. The last death penalty carried out in Montana was back in 2006, when David Dawson was executed for killing three people in the 1980s by way of strangulation—two men, William Jay Gollehon and Ronald Allen Smith, are currently serving death sentences at the Montana State Prison for deliberate homicide and kidnapping convictions.

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