NewsCrime & Courts


Judge hears arguments for and against death penalty in Patricia Batts case

patricia batts 060622.png
Posted at 6:15 AM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 12:08:54-04

The defense council for Patricia Batts argued seven different motions in Gallatin County District Court on June 6, the majority citing the unconstitutionality of the death penalty in Batts’ case.

Craig Shannon, a criminal defense lawyer and a member of Batts’ defense team, began the hearing saying that the death penalty should not be implemented in this case because Patricia did not intend or attempt to kill anyone.

“Less than 24 hours before Alex’s death, Alex is seen to be disoriented and slurring his words. J.S. III—I’ll use his initials— had severely beaten Alex,” Shannon said.

A point in the defense's argument was the act of killing, and who did kill 12-year-old Alex Hurley: in which they pointed responsibility to Alex’s grandfather, James Sasser Jr. and his uncle, James Sasser III.

Several items argued were in the vein of the same core issue, such as the determination of sentencing—in which two separate motions were filed for different amendment violations—but to hear all motions took the entirety of the day.

For each motion, the defense presented their argument to Judge John Brown, elaborating the unconstitutionality in the issue they’re presenting, followed by County Attorney Marty Lambert and Deputy County Attorney Bjorn Boyer to address the issues and present the State’s answer to the motion.

Throughout these motions, the judge often asked questions to either the defense lawyer or prosecutor to gain further understanding.

“The role that she played in taking of Alex’s life, failing to seek medical assistance, after that severe beating, that was inflicted on him,” Lambert said. “When he was moaning and groaning, lying next to the defendant. Those are facts the jury needs to hear about.”

The next steps for Batts’ case will be the proposed orders from counsel to Judge Brown. In these hearings it is standard practice to not decide on a motion until a later date.

Judge Brown is expected to make a ruling on whether or not Batts will face the death penalty on August 1.