CROWN POINT | The sister of slain Christian Choate admitted Monday to regularly punishing her brother by order of their father and stepmother.
If 13-year-old Christian wouldn't do as he was told, she would "smack him," Christina Choate said Monday during a bail hearing for the couple.
"If my brother got in trouble, I would, too," testified the petite, dark-haired 17-year-old.
Christina said she was beaten, too, after the boy died from a final beating by their father.
"He beat me and told me it was my fault my brother was dead," she told the court.
Riley Choate, 39, and his estranged wife, Kimberly Kubina, 46, are charged with murder and several other charges in connection to the boy's death in April 2009. The couple are seeking to be released on bond while awaiting trial, currently set for next May.
Contrary to prior reports, Christina denied hitting the boy with a metal pole but admitted striking him, chaining him to a bed and keeping him locked up in a dog cage.
Calm and composed throughout the roughly two-hour testimony, she said her relationship with her younger brother was "bad."
"We were not close," she said, admitting she told the boy she didn't like him after hearing allegations of his molesting another family member.
The girl depicted her father and stepmother as equal partners in the ongoing abuse of both siblings, saying there were nearly daily beatings.
The boy had stopped eating about a week before his death, she testified.
He seemed capable of only mumbling when he asked him if he was all right.
She described her involvement in the disposal of the boy's body after initially being told by Kubina to place it in a blanket and two trash bags.
Lake County Sheriff police Deputy Cmdr. Matt Eaton testified Riley Choate, two years after the boy's death, led police to the Black Oak shed in which the boy's body was buried and covered in concrete.
The bail hearing continues Nov. 17 before Lake Criminal Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan.