Choate gets public defender as new co-counsel
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent September 21, 2012 4:32PM
Updated: October 23, 2012 6:09AM
With less than three weeks before his murder trial begins in the death of his 13-year-old son, Riley Lowell Choate has a new lawyer joining his defense.
Choate, who had complained that he didn’t feel defense attorney Randy Godshalk was adequately representing him and had asked for a public defender to be appointed, got his wish on Friday. Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell directed the public defender’s office to appoint co-counsel for Choate. Lemuel Stigler, who is in charge of the conflicts division of the Lake County Public Defender’s office, will take on the duties.
Choate, 40, of Hammond, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, neglect of a dependent, battery and other counts in the death of Christian Choate, whose body was found in May 2011 buried under a storage shed in a Black Oak trailer park where the family lived. Court records indicate the boy was killed about two years before the discovery of his body.
In court on Friday, Choate complained that he hasn’t seen all the discovery material turned over by prosecutors on the case, particularly depositions of witnesses in the case.
Godshalk said the attorney-client relationship “has deteriorated even further. He is dissatisfied with the way I have prepared. He has questioned the way I prepared for witnesses to testify. He doesn’t believe that we are ready for trial.”
Godshalk has asked Boswell three times to allow him to withdraw his representation. Months ago, in response to Godshalk’s statement that he hadn’t been paid, Boswell ordered public funds to be used for Choate’s defense — except for Godshalk’s legal fees.
The huge amount of discovery material — banker’s boxes full of documents and other items — will be turned over to Stigler in electronic format, deputy prosecutor Michael Toth said. Deputy prosecutors Michael Woods and Angela Brown also will prosecute the case.
Stigler said he will meet with Choate and review the information at the Lake County Jail, where Choate has been held since May 2011.
Choate’s jury trial is set to begin Oct. 9.
His former wife, Kimberly Leona Kubina, 47, of Gary’s Black Oak section, pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent in May and agreed to testify against Choate. She faces 25 to 35 years in prison.