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As Patricia Batts awaits sentencing, her former neighbor talks about the impact of Alex Hurley's murder

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Posted at 11:12 AM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-11 22:35:10-04

BOZEMAN — The Alexander Hurley case shocked the town of West Yellowstone and the entire state of Montana, and three years later an end seems to be on the horizon.

Patricia Batts, Alex’s grandmother, accepted a plea deal and is now awaiting her sentencing hearing. Batts is the final member of the family to have her day in court.

For some members of the West Yellowstone community, reading the headlines and watching the news stories surrounding the case brings up emotions from that day in February 2020.

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Patricia Batts at hearing to decide if she will face the death penalty for deliberate homicide in the case of Alex Hurley

“It's been disgusting, to be honest with you, because she should have just pled guilty and be done with it,” said Missy Finney, a former neighbor of the Batts/Sasser family. “I'm over her and James and what they did, and just every time you see something in the news about it, it just brings back all those emotions again.”

Missy Finney has lived in West Yellowstone for 17 years, a stone’s throw away from the old Sasser/Batts house, and remembers the times when the neighborhood was filled with the noise of kids coming down to visit her home.

“You could hear them coming. That was the funny part because they weren’t quiet,” laughed Finney.

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Missy Finney

Alex Hurley was among the children that would come down and visit her home to play with her kids.

“He was bubbly, he was always smiling, he was a happy kid, he interacted well with others,” Finney said. “I enjoyed the time that he came over and spent; it was fun to have him over here when he was.”

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James Alex Hurley

On February 3, 2020, Finney was listening to the scanner as she was getting her kids ready to go to school.

“I kind of heard everything kind of go down. Once I got my kids off to school, then it all came about that little Alex was deceased, and that his family over there were doing some pretty horrendous things to him,” Missy Finney said.

Finney attended the community memorial service for Alex, and his obituary still hangs on her refrigerator door—a daily reminder of the smiling, happy kid that would come and visit her.

Patricia Batts is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on August 22, 2023.