December 11, 2023

A Texas woman was sentenced to life in prison for her role in physically abusing her boyfriend’s twin daughters, resulting in one’s death, the district attorney’s office told Newsweek.

After less than an hour of deliberation, a Brazos County jury on Thursday found 43-year-old Jessica Bundren guilty of physically abusing her boyfriend’s 6-year-old daughters, resulting in the death of one of the little girls, Brazos County Assistant District Attorney Kara Comte told Newsweek in an email interview on Saturday night.

Bundren, of Bryan, Texas, was arrested in 2020, accused of physically abusing both girls for not eating fast enough and wetting the bed, local authorities said. Arianna Rose Battelle died on October 27, 2020, as a result of the injuries she suffered, but her twin sister survived her injuries.

Bundren is currently being held in the Brazos County Jail after being convicted on a charge of Injury to a Child – Intentionally/Knowing Serious Bodily Injury, Comte said. A jury on Friday found that Bundren should serve the maximum sentence of life in a state penitentiary and be fined $10,000, Comte said, adding that Bundren has not gone to trial yet on an additional charge for injuring the surviving twin, Patience.

A Brazos County Grand Jury indicted the girls’ father, Justin Hopper, on two counts of Injury to a Child with intent to cause bodily injuries in December 2020. Hopper is scheduled for a status hearing on December 14, Comte said.

Texas Woman Sentenced to Life for Abuse
A Texas woman was sentenced to life in prison on November 3, 2023, for her role in physically abusing her boyfriend’s 6-year-old twin daughters, resulting in one’s death. Arianna Rose Battelle (pictured) died on October 27, 2020, authorities said.
Courtesy of Kimberly Elias

Dr. Evan Matshes, a Forensic Pathologist who was called to testify in Bundren’s trail by her defense team, confirmed that Arianna was beaten to death but could not verify who dealt the blows that took Arianna’s life.

“She was tortured,” Matshes said. “She may have been sexually assaulted as part of that process. Her death was slow and painful.”

However, the forensic expert said that “scientifically” it’s impossible to tell who inflicted the fatal injuries, saying it’s “not the job of the forensic pathologist to determine who did what, it’s our job to determine what happened.”

Comte said while Bundren has never confessed to the crimes that she did admit to “disciplining” the girls by “spankings” or “swats.” Police responding to the 911 call the day Arianna died said the little girl was found with what appeared to be welts and puncture wounds made by a belt.

Patience told investigators that she and Arianna would be punished if they ate lunch too slowly or wet the bed and said that both Bundren and their father would use a belt and paddle, according to the arrest report by Bryan police.

Police noted in the report that Patience had a black eye, a scab on her neck and “appeared to be in pain and moved with difficulty.” She also had two broken fingers, telling investigators that her father used a wooden paddle to hit her hand.

Comte told Newsweek that the abuse was never reported because it happened during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Since no one had seen the girls, Comte said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how long the abuse occurred, saying investigators believe it may have started somewhere in July or August of 2020 and Arianna died in October.

“The family did not see the girls because it was during Covid and they were keeping the girls away from people, including school,” Comte said. “They were attending school virtually.”

Kimberly Elias, grandmother to Arianna and Patience, told Newsweek in an interview on Saturday night that while she is “wholeheartedly grateful” that Bundren was given a life sentence that the punishment doesn’t ease the pain of Arianna’s death.

Elias, 46, said during the Bundren’s trial last week, the twins’ family heard graphic testimony and saw horrific photos of the girls’ “beaten, bruised and tortured little bodies” that they will never be able to erase from their minds. She told Newsweek that she is the ex-wife of the twins’ paternal grandfather and will always be the girls’ “MiMi.”

She said that without Arianna, the family will never be at peace or “be whole again.”

“That option was ripped away from us by two monsters,” Elias said. “As parents, we are supposed to love and protect our children from the monsters, yet they were the monsters. We’ve listened to testimony all last week and seen pictures that we will never be able to erase from our minds. Honestly, it’s been a living hell from the beginning, but we are grateful that someone is finally paying for this crime.”

Elias said that while most media outlets identified Bundren is the girls’ stepmother, she was their father’s live-in girlfriend. Elias said that Hopper had custody of the twins at the time of Arianna’s death.

She told Newsweek that Arianna was the sweetest little girl, who was “full of life and love.” Elias said that Arianna and Patience were best friends.

“With the actions of these monsters there is now half of a whole left,” she said. “Patience will never be the same without Arianna.”

Twin Killed in Texas
Patience (left) and Arianna Battelle (right) of Bryan, Texas. The then 6-year-old twins faced physical abuse, resulting in Arianna’s death in 2020. The girls’ grandmother told Newsweek that “with her being a twin, she had a built-in best friend. With the actions of these monsters, there is now half of a whole left.”
Courtesy of Kimberly Elias

In the three years since losing her twin sister and recovering from her physical injuries, Patience is “doing better,” her grandmother said, adding that the mental and emotional toll of the ordeal is something she will carry with her for the rest of her life.

“She is with a really, really good foster family who she absolutely loves with her whole heart, and she is wanting to be adopted by them,” Elias said. “This past birthday she stated she didn’t want a birthday party; she wanted an Adoption Party and I fully support that.”

Elias said that Patience has been with the foster family for three years and has a “very stable and happy life.”

“That makes me so happy and excited for her,” she said. “I’ve seen the smile and the light back in her eyes.”

Elias said that the girls’ father deserves to be convicted and face the maximum sentence for his role in their abuse.

“Justice has already whispered in his ear ‘I’m coming for you next,'” she said.