Riley Choate will likely die in prison after being sentenced to 80 years behind bars at a hearing on Friday. The abusive dad was convicted of felony child neglect for confining his son in a dog cage and beating the child to death in 2009.
The case was first uncovered when Choate's daughter, Christina, told relatives that her brother Christian had died after their father beat him repeatedly.
From there, authorities uncovered evidence of systematic child abuse and other crimes. Choate was arrested, charged, and sentenced. But those close to the case say it's still not enough for what he did.
In addition to the charges for child neglect, Choate was also convicted for the crime of moving a body from the scene of death and depriving his daughter of an education.
Christian and Christina, now 18, were taken out of school for "home schooling" but never educated at home. Their stepmother took them out because she was worried that the school would notice the bruises on Christian, reports The Times of Northwest Indiana.
Choate pleaded guilty to the crimes he was charged with in exchange for a lighter sentence. The maximum punishment would have been 120 years, but with the plea he received a shorter sentence of 80 years in prison.
At the hearing, Choate made a statement about his regrets, reports the Chicago Tribune. He said that he loved his son, but the jury was unconvinced.
The evidence against him likely made it hard to show any leniency. Choate confined his son to a cage for two years and beat him regularly. The boy weighed less than 50 pounds when he died.
After his death, Choate buried the boy's body under a thin layer of concrete. He concealed the boy's death with the help of his ex-wife and Christian's stepmother, Kimberly Kubina.
For her role in the abuse, Kubina was also charged with child neglect. She pleaded guilty last May and is awaiting sentencing.
When asked why she didn't report the abuse, Kubina responded that she was afraid her other children would be removed from the home. Indiana does not require non-professionals to report child abuse, so Kubina could not be charged for failing to report. (But had she been a teacher, psychologist, or other mandated reporter, she could have been charged simply for failing to report suspected abuse to authorities.)
Police, however, did arrest Kubina for contributing to Christian's neglect, based on evidence that she helped confine him and otherwise contributed to the abuse he suffered.
Riley Choate may not have gotten life in prison or the death penalty, but there's little chance he will threaten anyone again, at least outside of prison. His 80-year sentence means there's little chance he'll ever walk free.
- Father sentenced to 80 years in death of son who was kept in cage (NBC News)
- Dad Arrested for Locking Toddler in Dog Cage (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Questions about reporting child abuse? Ask an expert (FindLaw Answers)
- Child Abuse (FindLaw)