Hearing to Decide if Teen Can Face Adult Charges in Killing

Defendant is charged in Youth Court with felony deliberate homicide in the Feb. 3 death of James “Alex” Hurley

By Justin Franz

BOZEMAN — A hearing is set next month to determine if a 14-year-old West Yellowstone boy can be charged as an adult in the beating death of his 12-year-old nephew.

The defendant is charged in Youth Court with felony deliberate homicide in the Feb. 3 death of James “Alex” Hurley. He died of blunt force trauma to the head, an autopsy found.

District Judge John Brown scheduled a transfer hearing on March 5. The Associated Press is not using the defendant’s name because he is a juvenile.

Hurley’s grandparents, Patricia Batts and James Sasser Jr., also face deliberate homicide charges.

Investigators found evidence, including videos, that indicated Hurley’s grandparents and his 14-year-old uncle regularly abused him, including beating him with a wooden paddle and locking up food, court records said.

The uncle said he and Batts took turns being duct-taped to Hurley to keep him from running away at night, investigators said.

The 14-year-old also acknowledged kicking Hurley in the head multiple times in the 24 to 36 hours before his death, charging documents said.

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