Choates formalize plea in boy's death

2011-05-17T19:00:00Z 2011-06-01T13:15:44Z Choates formalize plea in boy's deathBy Susan Brown, (219) 662-5325

CROWN POINT | Riley and Kimberly Choate, charged with murder and other counts in the death of 13-year-old Christian Choate, made a second court appearance Tuesday, entering formal pleas of not guilty.

Kimberly Choate, the victim's stepmother, is also known as Kimberly Kubina.

Court dates set last week had the couple making formal appearances separately this week, but both appeared Tuesday with attorneys in tow.

Preliminary pleas of not guilty were entered for the couple last week during a joint initial hearing.

Since then, Kimberly Choate, 45, was appointed a public defender, Linda Kollintzas. Riley Choate, 39, appeared with his private attorney, Randy Godshalk, of Hammond.

Positive identification of the boy's body remains pending. The boy was buried in a shallow grave in a mobile home park in Gary's Black Oak neighborhood for two years before authorities were alerted. Godshalk asked an independent autopsy be performed at public expense and the boy's burial be delayed.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell ordered the body be held by the Lake County coroner's office pending a hearing June 14.

The couple is next expected in court May 24 for a hearing on a state's request for handwriting samples.

The court also reset the date for an omnibus hearing, when a trial date may be set, from June 28 to July 5.

The couple waived a reading of charges, which have been amended to a total of 13. They include murder, battery, four counts neglect of a dependent, criminal confinement, three counts obstruction of justice, and altering the scene of a death, all felonies, and failure to report a dead body, a misdemeanor.

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