INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the 35-year prison term issued to the stepmother of Christian Choate, an abused boy whose body was discovered in 2011 buried in a shallow grave at a Gary mobile home park.
The court rejected Kimberly Kubina's claims that in deciding her sentence for child neglect resulting in death, Lake Superior Judge Diane Ross Boswell improperly assessed Kubina's position of trust, did not account for her suffering as a victim of spousal abuse and ignored Kubina's mental illness and remorse. The court's vote was 3-0.
"The trial court noted several of these facts, as well as the nature of Christian's 'long, lingering, torturous death,'" wrote Appeals Judge L. Mark Bailey. "As to the question of remorse, while the trial court found that Kubina was remorseful, it afforded that determination no weight because of the nature and circumstances of the offense."
Christian Choate was 13 when he died April 2, 2009. During the two years prior to his death, his father, Riley Choate, violently beat Christian, confined him to a dog cage and starved him, according to court records.
Riley Choate was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Court records indicate Kubina, now 48, witnessed Choate's attacks and torment upon Christian but never informed law enforcement or attempted to obtain medical attention for the boy.
Following Christian's death, Kubina directed the boy's sister to wrap his body in garbage bags and pack it in a plastic tote. Kubina then assisted Riley Choate in burying the body underneath a shed, according to court records.
Two years later, Christian's sister told her mother about the circumstances of the boy's death and burial, which led to the arrest of Christian's father and stepmother.