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GARY, Ind. (STMW) – The stepmother of a 13-year-old boy whose body was found buried in a Northwest Indiana mobile home park has agreed to testify against the boy’s father in exchange for a more lenient sentence.
Kimberly Leona Kubina, 46, of the Black Oak section of Gary, pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent in exchange for a sentence of 25 to 35 years in the death of Christian Choate.
Kubina has agreed to testify against her ex-husband, Riley Lowell Choate, who is Christian’s father.
Choate, who turns 40 on Thursday, has pleaded not guilty to murder, neglect of a dependent, battery and confinement charges filed in Christian’s death, along with several other felony charges related to the disposal of the boy’s body.
In a 10-minute hearing Wednesday before Judge Diane Ross Boswell in Lake County, Ind., Kubina agreed to the following description of Christian Choate’s ordeal:
Rlley Choate first began abusing Christian Choate regularly in March 2007 after Riley Choate saw Christian and another boy in the bedroom. Neither boy was wearing pants. Riley Choate and Kubina learned that the boy was told he had to play the “hump game” with Christian.
The beatings by Riley Choate, which occurred between January 2007 and April 2009, started with him striking Christian with an open hand hard enough to knock the boy to the floor and by lifting him by his shirt and slamming him into the wall.
The beatings were so severe Kubina would intervene. At the time, the family was living in Merrillville, but Choate and Kubina withdrew Christian from Iddings Elementary School because Kubina was concerned the school would notice bruises on him and that the other children could be removed by the Department of Child Services.
Between January 2007 and April 2009, Christian was confined to his basement room at the Merrillville home. Eventually he was allowed to eat and use the bathroom. Choate and Kubina became aware Christian was urinating and defecating in the room but continued to confine him.
From April 2008 to April 2009, the family lived in a mobile home in Black Oak. Christian initially was confined to a bathroom, then a front bedroom that he shared with his father until late 2009 when Christian escaped and was found by Kubina and another relative at a nearby Walgreens.
After Christian ran away, Kubina helped Choate confine Christian in a dog cage. He was allowed to leave the cage only to eat, use the bathroom and exercise.
Kubina, acting on Choate’s orders, had Christian’s sister oversee Christian’s care. The girl was between the ages of 13 and 15 when the crimes occurred. The boy was fed Ramen noodles for breakfast and lunch and the family meal for dinner.
Christian lost significant amounts of weight — he wore a size 8 in boy’s clothing — so Kubina told Christian’s sister to feed him two Ramen noodle packs for breakfast and lunch and to supplement his food with protein shakes. Weekly “cold-water” baths were intended to decrease swelling and bruising on Christian’s body.
On April 2, 2009, Kubina was at Longfellow Elementary School for a conference when she received a call that something was wrong at home with “grandma.” Before Kubina left for the school, Christian Choate was lying on a baby mattress and appeared pale, lethargic and glassy-eyed. When she returned home, Christian was dead.
Kubina called Riley Choate, who told her to “take care of it” until he got home. Kubina made Christian’s sister wrap Christian’s body in a blanket, place it in two plastic garbage bags and inside a plastic tote before Kubina and the girl carried it across the street to a relative’s trailer.
After buying two bags of concrete and two bags of lime, Kubina helped Choate bury the boy’s body under the floor of the shed.
Kubina put a cross and Bible on top of the body and watched Riley Choate cover the body with dirt.
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