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Woman’s 35-year sentence upheld following death of stepson

November 6, 2013

A Lake Superior judge did not abuse her discretion in sentencing a woman to 35 years for neglect of a dependent after the woman’s stepson died following years of abuse.

Kimberly Kubina faced numerous charges after her stepson Christian Choate died in 2009. The boy was repeatedly abused and beaten by his father, which Kubina did not stop or report. The boy was kept locked up and only let out of the room or a dog cage to eat, use the restroom or exercise. After his death, she helped dispose of the boy’s body.

Kubina pleaded guilty to one count of Class A felony neglect of a dependent and received 35 years incarceration. In Kimberly Kubina v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1303-CR-100, she argued that the trial court abused its discretion when it found aggravating and mitigating circumstances during sentencing.

She believed the trial court improperly took into account her position of trust with the boy when determining aggravating factors. The statute she was convicted under requires that Kubina have had “care of a dependent.”

“Kubina had more than mere care of Christian; she was a stepparent involved in Christian’s upbringing and living in the same home with him, and directly assisted (father Riley) Choate in Christian’s abuse on numerous occasions,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote. “The trial court noted several of these facts, as well as the nature of Christian’s ‘long, lingering, torturous death.’ We thus find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s finding that Kubina was in a position of trust with Christian.”

The judges also found no abuse of discretion when the trial judge only took into account as a mitigating factor that Kubina lacked a criminal history.

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