Preliminary autopsy results rule Gary boy's death a homicide

2011-05-06T19:30:00Z 2013-02-19T13:05:19Z Preliminary autopsy results rule Gary boy's death a homicideBy Pete Nickeas, (219) 933-4183

GARY | The adolescent boy whose body was pulled from a shallow grave in Gary on Wednesday night died in an apparent homicide, Deputy Coroner PJ Adams said.

The remains haven't yet been identified as those of Christian Choate, a 13-year-old Gary boy who went missing two years ago, but Lake County police have said they believe the remains are his.

Preliminary autopsy results show the boy suffered blunt force trauma to his body, internal bleeding and a skull fracture.

Christian's father, Riley Choate, led police to the grave Wednesday. He told police he buried Christian beneath concrete after sprinkling lime on the body and placing a Bible and cross on his chest, authorities said.

Riley Choate was charged Thursday with felony removal of a body from a death scene and misdemeanor counts of failure to notify authorities of the discovery of a dead body and failure to report a dead body, Lake Criminal Court records show.

He had his initial appearance on Friday before Lake Criminal Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan, who ordered a public defender to represent him in future hearings because he can't afford a private lawyer.

Sullivan set Riley Choate's bond at $50,000, but even if he posted bond, he would not be released because he is being held on a felony warrant out of Kentucky.

He has another hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning before Lake Criminal Court Judge Diane Boswell.

Kim Choate, who is Riley's wife and the dead boy's stepmother, is being held on a warrant from Kentucky but hasn't been charged in connection with Christian's death. Police said she was living with Riley and Christian at the time of the boy's death.

Christian's body will remain at the Lake County coroner's office until DNA testing can confirm the identity, Adams said.

The body then will be released to Ridgelawn Funeral Home and Ridgelawn Cemetery, whose owner Robert Williams said he is donating full burial services to the family because he feels "obligated" to help.

"That's why we're here," he said. "To service the families under any circumstances."

Staff writers Bill Dolan and Marisa Kwiatkowski contributed to this report.

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