Patricia Batts court appearance

Patricia Batts appears in Gallatin County District Court on March 24.

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The grandmother of the West Yellowstone boy murdered last month pleaded not guilty Tuesday to all four charges related to the death and alleged torture of her 12-year-old grandson, James Alexander Hurley.

Patricia Batts appeared for the first time in Gallatin County District Court this afternoon.

She's facing charges of deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnapping, child endangerment, and strangulation of a family member.

Prosecutors say Batts lead the charge in abusing Alex, who died from trauma to his head at the family's home last month. Batts' bail remains at $750,000 at the request of state prosecutors.

At the hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Batts was given permission to contact her stepdaughter about matters that weren't related to the case.

Batts' husband James Sasser Jr. and their 14-year-old son are also charged with deliberate homicide. Both, like Batts, have also pleaded not guilty to their charges.

Prosecutors say Hurley endured years of torture at the hands of those family members.

The state also filed charges of negligent homicide against Madison Sasser, Alex's 18-year-old aunt, last week.

Court documents say Madison saw Alex laying on the floor the night he died, texting her boyfriend that she thought he was dead. Those documents adding that she did not make any attempts to help him.

Batts is due in court again on May 27.

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