Judge appoints public defender co-counsel in Choate case

2012-09-21T13:30:00Z 2013-02-19T13:05:30Z Judge appoints public defender co-counsel in Choate caseSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com
September 21, 2012 1:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | Hammond attorney Randy Godshalk will continue to go unpaid in his defense of Riley Choate but will be joined by an attorney from the public defender's office.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell arrived at the compromise during Friday's final pretrial hearing for Choate, who is accused of murder in the death of his 13-year-old son. The trial is set Oct. 9.

Christian Choate's bruised and emaciated body was found in a shallow grave in May 2011 in a Black Oak mobile park two years after he is believed to have died. 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.

Riley Choate has insisted on new legal representation, both because of Boswell's decision not to allow Godshalk to be paid as a public defender and also what Choate contends to be a lack of attention by the unpaid Godshalk to preparing his case.

Choate and his supporters ran out of money to pay for private counsel, leading Godshalk to propose he either be paid the reduced rate of a public defender to continue with the case or allowed to withdraw.

Boswell turned down the proposals, arguing they would set a precedent.

Godshalk on Friday spoke to the breakdown in the relationship to his client, denying he has withheld documents or not taken steps in Choate's defense.

Godshalk said he has provided all discovery either to Choate himself or to others on Choate's behalf.

"You may be looking for things that aren't there," Boswell said to Choate, admonishing Choate about talking to others in the jail about his case.

"You have two competent attorneys," she told a disgruntled Choate. "Let them guide you through this process."

Assisting Godshalk will be public defender Lemuel Stigler.

In past hearings, Boswell warned Choate about the consequences of changing attorneys, including a long delay in his trial.

While Boswell relented somewhat in appointing Choate a public defender to assist Godshalk, she would not entertain the thought of delaying the trial, now just two weeks away.

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