The stepmother of Christian Choate, who died while locked in a cage after a brutal beating in his Indiana home, pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent Wednesday--a reduced charge offered for her cooperation in criminal proceedings against the boy's biological father.
Kimberly Kubina, ex-wife of Christian's father Riley Choate, is facing 25 to 35 years in prison, following a plea deal that dropped her original murder, battery and criminal confinement charges in exchange for her cooperation in the trial against Riley Choate, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. A hearing to determine her sentence has been scheduled for August 28.
Kubina was arrested in May 2011 after 13-year-old Christian Choate's body was found buried under a thin layer of concrete in Gary, Indiana. An investigation later concluded that Choate had died in April of 2009, but his death was concealed by relatives until his biological mother called the police and asked for help locating her son.
An autopsy showed that Christian suffered blunt force trauma to his body, internal bleeding and a skull fracture before his death, and his sister told police she found him unresponsive, locked in a dog cage he had been confined to for much of the last year of his life.
Kubina, who recently divorced Choate while the couple was being held in Lake County Jail, has admitted to pulling Christian from school to "homeschool" him, which the Department of Child Services in Indiana says helped conceal the abuse and the boy's ultimate death.
She also enforced limitations on Christian under Riley Choate's direction, reportedly telling Christian's sister to feed him only Asian noodles through the cage for all his meals, according to the Associated Press.
Riley Choate has been charged with murder, battery, neglect of a dependent, criminal confinement, altering the scene of a death, failing to notify authorities of discovering a dead body and failing to report a dead body. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.