NewsCrime & Courts


West Yellowstone man accused of assaulting 12-year-old boy pleads not guilty

Victim's grandmother faces additional charges in "systematic torture" case
Sasser Jr & Batts.jpg
Posted at 10:39 AM, Mar 10, 2020

BOZEMAN — The fourth person involved in the torture of a 12-year-old West Yellowstone boy that led to his death was back in court this morning.

And like the others accused, he says he didn’t do it.

It’s been just over a month since Gallatin County Sheriff’s deputies say they found 12-year-old James Alexander Hurley dead at his grandparent’s home on Buffalo Drive.

Now, 18-year-old Gage Roush was in district court to say he did not assault Hurley in one of several videos produced by Patricia Batts, James Sasser Junior and Hurley’s uncle, James Sasser III.

Gage Roush stood before Gallatin County District Court Judge Holly Brown, not by video this time but in person.

According to the 36-page court document filled with a disturbing timeline, Roush appears on page 11, as detectives say he appears in a video found on 14-year-old James Sasser III’s phone.

Court documents show the video displays Hurley sitting against a door, crying, while a man is seen hitting him with a piece of wood…

Detectives say that man was Roush, after Roush posted on the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

Investigators say they were able to match Roush’s clothes to the clothes seen in the video.

And investigators say Roush later admitted to it.

The charges don’t stop with him.

On Monday, Patricia Batts, Hurley’s grandmother, charged with deliberate homicide by association, heard more charges.

Court documents show Batts is now charged with kidnapping, child endangerment and strangulation.

Investigators add that Batts was withholding social security benefits from Hurley, keeping the boy inside, forcing him to sit against a wall or door in squat positions.

And at times, as on January 23, 2020, documents reveal a time when a video shows Batts holding Hurley against the wall by his neck and, days later, telling Hurley is “not even a human.”

James Sasser III remains in custody, the sole person charged with deliberate homicide.

While Sasser Junior and Batts, also behind bars, are charged with deliberate homicide by association.

Roush’s bail remains at $50,000 and he’s scheduled to returned to court on April 21.

Batts’ next court appearance is expected to be April 1.

Batts’ bail remains at $750,000. Sasser Jr.’s was set at $500,000.

On Tuesday, 18-year-old Gage Roush of West Yellowstone pleaded not guilty in Gallatin County District Court to a felony charge of assault on a minor, in connection with the death of 12-year-old James Alex Hurley.

According to court documents, Roush was identified as the man seen striking Hurley with his hands and a wooden paddle in a video on the phone of James Sasser III, Hurley's 14-year-old uncle facing a deliberate homicide charge in the case.

Hurley's grandparents, James Sasser Jr. and Patricia Batts, also face homicide charges in the case, accused of the “systematic torture” that led to Hurley’s death.

Roush's bail was kept at $50,000. His next court date is a status conference set for April 21.