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Christian Choate’s burial delayed by autopsy request

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



Editor’s note: A Wednesday story should have said services for Christian Choate of Gary will take place as scheduled on Friday, May 21. Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. and the funeral will be from 7-8 p.m. at Ridgelawn Funeral Home, 4201 W. Ridge Road, Gary.

The burial of Christian Choate, whose father and stepmother are charged with his murder, will be delayed until next month when a judge is expected to decide whether taxpayer money will be used to pay for an independent autopsy of the 13-year-old.

The boy’s father, Riley Lowell Choate, 39, of Hammond, and stepmother, Kimberly Leona Kubina, 45, of Gary’s Black Oak section, appeared with their attorneys Tuesday before Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell. The two have pleaded not guilty.

Choate’s defense attorney, Randy Godshalk, filed a motion for an independent autopsy at public expense and delay of the burial. Boswell set a June 14 hearing.

Godshalk also filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on his position that the allegations contained in the two criminal cases filed against Choate “fail to conform to the requirement of law and must be dismissed for lack of specificity.”

The murder charges allege that criminal acts occurred between April 1, 2008, and May 4, 2011, and an earlier case filed regarding removal of a body from a death scene or altering a death scene state the crime occurred between April 1, 2009, and May 4, 2011. Godshalk’s motion to dismiss is also set for hearing on June 14.

Prosecutors filed amended charges that add new counts, including neglect of a dependent for depriving Christian and his 17-year-old sister of an education between Jan. 1, 2007 and May 4, 2011. Prosecutors also added four counts of obstruction of justice that allege Choate and Kubina moved Christian’s body from the scene and buried it, that they removed and later burned shed flooring for the burial of Christian’s body and removed the dog cage that witnesses said Christian lived in every day for more than one year.

In addition, Choate, who has two prior unrelated felony convictions for auto theft in Lake County, faces up to an additional 30-year sentence after prosecutors filed an habitual offender sentencing enhancement request.

Christian Choate’s body was found May 4 in a shallow grave under a shed in the Colfax Mobile Home Park where the family once lived.

Prosecutors also filed a request to seek handwriting samples from both Choate and Kubina.

Kubina, who is represented by public defender Linda Kollintzas, was also charged Tuesday with removal of a body from a death scene or altering a death scene, and two misdemeanor counts of failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a dead body and failure to report a dead body.

Court records indicate Christian died of blunt force trauma. The boy sustained blunt force trauma to his body with internal bleeding and a skull fracture, court records state.

The boy’s mother, Aimee Estrada, contacted police May 1 that she had received information that her son was buried under a shed. The boy’s sister told police Christian died more than two years ago after repeated abuse. Kubina told the children that Christian had run away and that it was a family matter that “goes to the grave,” the probable cause affidavit states.



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