Couple plead not guilty during initial hearings in Christian Choate's death

2011-05-11T19:00:00Z 2013-02-19T13:05:21Z Couple plead not guilty during initial hearings in Christian Choate's deathBy Susan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Riley and Kimberly Choate faced Lake Criminal Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan at initial hearings Wednesday morning.

Sullivan entered a preliminary not guilty plea for the couple, who are being held in the Lake County Jail with no bond.

The couple are accused of murder, battery, neglect and criminal confinement in connection with the death of Riley Choate's biological son, Christian Choate, 13.

A body believed to be the boy's was found last week buried in a shallow grave in a Black Oak mobile home park in Gary.

He is alleged to have suffered abuse for several years, which included being kept in a cage for at least the last year of his life. The boy is alleged to have died April 4, 2009, but his death wasn't reported until last week.

Riley Choate, 39, has retained a private attorney, Randy Godshalk, of Hammond, who will represent him on the new charges as well as the charges to which Choate pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Choate also is charged with altering the scene of a death, a felony, and failing to notify authorities of discovering a dead body and failing to report a dead body, both misdemeanors.

Kimberly Choate, 45, Christian's stepmother, was assigned a public defender.

Riley Choate is next expected in court May 17 to enter a formal plea. Kimberly Choate is set to appear May 19.

Both hearings will be held before Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell.

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said Tuesday the case remains under investigation with more charges pending. 

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