Choate attorney seeks custody records

2011-05-24T19:45:00Z 2011-05-25T07:16:55Z Choate attorney seeks custody recordsBy Susan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-0532 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Tuesday's court hearing in the murder case against Riley Choate and Kimberly Kubina-Choate saw the beginnings of an attempt by the defense to learn the facts behind the custody battle for slain 13-year-old Christian Choate.

The body believed to be that of Christian was found earlier this month after being buried in a Black Oak mobile home park for two years.

Court documents allege the boy was repeatedly beaten for several years and kept in a cage for as long as a year until his death in April 2009.

Defense attorney Randy Godshalk asked for records related to Riley Choate seeking custody of Christian and Christian's sister, Christina, in 2004.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell approved Godshalk's subpoena requests as well as those sought by the state's team, Lake Deputy Prosecutors Angela Brown, Michael Woods and Michael Toth.

Prosecutors have subpoenaed records from local schools and the Indiana Department of Child Services. Court documents indicate prosecutors also have subpoenaed the guardian ad litem.

With Choate, 39, and the children's natural mother, Aimee Estrada, unmarried, custody proceedings were conducted under Juvenile Court jurisdiction, where confidentiality typically reigns supreme.

Godshalk, of Hammond, sought access to all court filings, including reports by the children's guardian ad litem, an attorney appointed by the court to represent the children's interest in the proceedings.

In a related matter, Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura confirmed reports that a hearing regarding Christina Choate, now 17, was to be held Tuesday afternoon.

Attorney Scott King said he has been appointed by the Juvenile Court to represent the girl.

"I've been retained to represent her regarding the ongoing criminal investigation," King said.

King said he is not anticipating charges against his client.

"I'm working diligently to avoid that," King said. "It would be a huge miscarriage of justice to this young lady, who's suffered enormously already, to even be considered for a criminal charge."

Named in the documents presented to the court Tuesday regarding Godshalk's request for custody records, Crown Point attorney George Galanos confirmed he represented the interests of Riley Choate in the case.

"I represented Riley to gain custody from the mother, who was alleged to have abandoned the children to an ex-boyfriend, to reside with a new boyfriend," Galanos said Tuesday.

"We requested the assistance of a guardian ad litem," he said. "It was the determination of the guardian ad litem that it was in the children's best interest to be placed with the father."

Galanos declined to provide specifics on the case.

"All I can say is that the day Riley was finally able to see his children was the happiest day of his life," Galanos said.

Godshalk also sought employment records for Choate from a South Holland, Ill., retailer of home leisure products.

A court hearing set for June 14 will address motions by Godshalk to dismiss the case and to hold an independent autopsy of the boy's body. Boswell is also expected to rule on the state's request for handwriting samples from the defendants.

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