Last week, 47-year-old James Danny Sasser Jr. appeared with his attorney, Brian Carl Smith, in Montana’s Gallatin County District Court before Judge Rienne McElyea.
Sasser Jr. entered a plea of not guilty to the charges accusing him of participating in or failing to intervene in the beating and torture that led to the death of his wife’s grandson, 12-year-old James Alexander “Alex” Hurley in early February.
The charges against Sasser Jr. include deliberate homicide and criminal child endangerment. He has been held in the Gallatin County jail on $500,000 bail since his arrest in February.
His wife, 48-year-old Patricia Lynn Batts, who has been jailed in the same facility on $750,000 bail, faces charges of deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnapping, criminal child endangerment, and strangulation of a partner or family member. On Tuesday, March 24, she appeared, along with attorneys Ryan Peabody and Mariah Eastman, in court before Judge John Brown.
Patricia entered a plea of not guilty to all four charges.
Patricia’s charges are more severe than her husband’s because she is thought to be the ringleader of the abuse perpetrated upon little Alex by the family, including Patricia, Sasser Jr., the couple’s 18-year-old daughter, Madison Sasser, and their 14-year-old son, James Sasser Jr.
Both of their children also face charges, as does a family friend, 18-year-old Gage Roush.
Madison Sasser is charged with negligent homicide. Sasser Jr. is charged with felony deliberate homicide by accountability, and Roush is charged with felony assault of a minor.
Sasser III and Gage have both entered not guilty pleas to their charges. Madison, who was just arrested last week, has not yet entered a plea.
Sources: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, KHQ