Probe Continues Into Death Of Boy Kept In Dog Cage

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) — The probe continues into the bizarre death of Christian Choate – the 13-year-old boy who was kept in a dog cage for a year in a Northwest Indiana trailer park.

In the latest development, a decision has been postponed on whether taxpayer money will be used to fund an independent autopsy on the boy, whose father and stepmother stand charged with murder.

The latest issues have dealt with minutia about which judge will hear a pre-trial motion. Defense attorney Randy Godshalk, who represents Christian’s father, Riley Lowell Choate, told Lake County, Ind., Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan on Tuesday that the autopsy issue and a motion to dismiss he filed on behalf of his client should be heard by Judge Diane Ross Boswell, who is expected to preside at Choate’s trial. Boswell has been absent from the bench for a couple weeks.

Boswell had ordered that burial of the boy’s body be delayed until she rules on the independent autopsy request.

Sullivan rescheduled the hearing for July 5, the same date as an omnibus hearing for Choate and Kimberly Leona Kubina.

Riley Choate, 34, of Hammond, Ind., and his wife, Kimberly Kubina, 45, of the Black Oak section of Gary, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, battery, neglect of a dependent, obstruction of justice, removal of a body from a death scene, failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a body and failure to report a body.

Riley Choate also faces a habitual offender sentencing enhancement request because of his prior auto theft convictions in 1991 and 1998. Choate faces an additional 30-year sentence if convicted of murder, punishable by 45 to 65 years in prison.

Christian’s body was found in May, encased under a concrete slab in the Colfax Mobile Home Park in Gary.

Investigators were tipped off to Christian’s death by Christian’s mother, Aimee Estrada, who said her daughter came to her on May 1 with information about the location of Christian’s body.

The daughter later told investigators that her brother died around April 5, 2009, and that Riley and Kimberly Choate buried Christian behind a home in the 5900 block of West 36th Avenue in Gary on April 8, in the trailer park where they had lived before moving to Kentucky, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Following an investigation, Lake County, Ind., authorities found out further that Christian had been kept in a dog cage secured with seven locks for more than a year by the time he died.

Christian’s sister told prosecutors she was the only one responsible for looking after the boy, and was forced to beat him while recording a video of her actions at Kimberly Choate’s direction.

On April 4, 2009, Christian refused to eat. Prosecutors said Riley got angry and punched him several times in the head before throwing him back in the cage. The following day, the boy’s sister discovered him dead.

The girl said she saw Riley and Kimberly Choate wrap Christian’s body in a two plastic garbage bags and load it into a plastic tote, then haul it off in their van along with several other totes, prosecutors said. Riley Choate said he put a Bible and a cross on the deceased Christian’s chest over the bags before burying him, prosecutors said.

The Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune contributed ot this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

  • Zach Nepermann

    how sick. these two pos’s dont deserve to go to jail. they definitely deserve the death sentence. But thats just in my opinion. I’m sure someone will disagree. This is too sick… And think of the sister. If anybody had done that to her, i’d make sure they got the same!

  • DJ

    How sad-this poor boy never had a chance at life and suffered abuse.Whats going on with these parents treating a boy like an animal? Hope they pay the price!

  • Lyndia

    Every time I hear of somethinglike this I want to kill the parents. How old was the sister? Couldn’t she have notified the authorities? I know that parents can be very twisted in their thoughts and make vast differences between their children but the sister could have/should have contacted someone. Perhaps this cute and innocent boy would be alive today. Where was the mother? Was she at least visiting her son? I know first hand how it feels to be abused by some sick A@@ parent and kicked in the butt by siblings. It is not a good feeling and it leaves scars that last all of your life. However, you can live with and over come some of the anger in you if you continue to live but this child never got the opportunity to do so. I hope they never see the light of day. Rotten, low life savages.

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