Attorneys not ready for upcoming Choate trial

2012-05-01T16:00:00Z 2013-10-30T23:56:05Z Attorneys not ready for upcoming Choate trialBy Susan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Lake County Criminal Court on Tuesday reluctantly reset the murder trial of a couple accused of murder and other multiple felonies in the death of 13-year-old Christian Choate.

The boy's body was found in May 2011 buried in a Black Oak mobile home park two years after his disappearance.

Riley Choate, 39, and his now ex-wife, Kimberly Kubina, 46, were scheduled for trial beginning May 14, but Judge Diane Boswell reluctantly reset the trial for Aug. 13 after admonishing both the defense and the prosecution for not being prepared for trial.

During a hearing last month, Boswell had strongly urged both sides to work diligently to meet the trial date. 

On Tuesday, Kubina's public defender Linda Kollintzas told Boswell she is reviewing thousands of pages of documents with more to come.

Lead Deputy Prosecutor Michael Woods reported he had deposed no witnesses in the wake of the court's own lengthy review of documents.

In a rare show of anger, Boswell chastised Woods, saying the prosecution long had access to the witnesses involved in the documents under her review.

Boswell questioned not only the conduct of the case by both sides but also the fairness to the defendants of delaying the trial, possibly up to a year because of her crowded court calendar.

"Are you going to sit around for another year until two weeks before trial?" Boswell asked.

Boswell also denied a request of Choate's private attorney, Randy Godshalk, of Hammond, to withdraw from the case if he couldn't be paid out of the public defender's office.

Godshalk reported last month Choate had run out of money for his defense and asked the court for the use of public money.

Chief Public Defender David Schneider on Tuesday told Boswell he not only could find no precedent but reminded the court of his office's shaky finances.

Godshalk had sought only the standard $60 hourly rate of contracted public defenders, but Boswell nixed the offer.

"It would set a bad precedent," she told Godshalk.

Godshalk's staying power in continuing Choate's defense in light of the court's ruling remained unclear Tuesday. 

Finally settling on Aug. 13 for the new trial, Boswell also set another pretrial hearing for July 17.

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