Prosecutors to seek death penalty against West Yellowstone woman in grandson’s death

By FREDDY MONARES Associated Press

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) – Prosecutors in Montana have said they will seek the death penalty against a West Yellowstone woman accused of fatally torturing and beating her 12-year-old grandson.

Prosecutor Bjorn Boyer filed the notice in Gallatin County District Court on Friday stating his intent to pursue capital punishment against Patricia Batts if she is convicted of the death of Alex Hurley, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

The state is trying to prove that aggravating circumstances and torture surround the boy’s death, prosecutors said.

Batts has pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges including deliberate homicide, aggravated kidnapping and criminal child endangerment. She has been held at the county jail on $750,000 bail since February.

Her attorney Ryan Peabody did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Batts beat and punished Hurley and taught her children to do the same, prosecutors said, adding that other relatives were also charged and all pleaded not guilty.

Deputies found multiple videos on Batts’ phone in February showing the family torturing the boy at their home near Hebgen Lake, authorities said.

Batts admitted to forcing the child to do wall sit exercises and stand in front of fans half-naked while being squirted with water, authorities said. She also claimed she did not know how Hurley died and told detectives she did not feel responsible.

A death penalty information center said the last death penalty carried out in Montana was in 2006 when a man was executed for killing three people.

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