Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Dillard gets 65 years for murder of Nicole Gland

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By LILY REX

Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer sentenced Christopher Dillard to 65 years in prison, the maximum sentence, yesterday following a series of victim impact statements that urged him to make sure Dillard never breathes free air again.

A jury found Dillard guilty in November of the 2017 murder of Nicole Gland. Gland and Dillard both worked at the former Upper Deck Lounge at 139 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton. Gland was stabbed more than 20 times in the head, neck, and torso in the early hours of April 19, 2017, behind the bar. A Chesterton Tribune employee found her slumped over in her vehicle as he arrived to work the next morning.

The Prosecution contended that Dillard killed Gland in a drug and alcohol induced haze because she resisted his sexual advances. Witnesses testified that Dillard’s DNA was found on Gland’s body, that he expressed sexual desires for her in the months leading up to her murder, and that he confessed to various cell mates and to his girlfriend in recorded jail phone calls after his arrest. The jury didn’t buy the Defense’s claim that no definitive evidence linked Dillard to the crime and that shoddy police work had made a victim of him.

In addition to victim impact statements, the Prosecution submitted a list of prior offenses Dillard had been charged with in Riverside, Calif. and Hobart, Ind. to factor into sentencing.

According to Porter County Sheriff’s Police Captain Jeff Biggs, Dillard was charged with domestic battery against his long-time girlfriend in Hobart. He was also charged with making sexually explicit “terroristic threats” to a woman via phone while he was living in California in 1999. The threats were not just against her, but also against her then-five-year-old daughter, and Dillard had lived down the street from them, according to Biggs.

Dillard’s defense attorney Russell W. Brown argued yesterday that there were mitigating factors in the killing, including that Dillard suffered abuse at the hands of his father that led him to substance abuse later in life. Brown said Dillard maintains his innocence regarding the phone threats, despite notes in the original police report on the incident that say Dillard confessed to making the calls just to get a reaction.

Clymer didn’t consider any mitigating factors. “You are responsible for your actions,” Clymer said when he sentenced Dillard. “The drugs didn’t kill Nicole Gland. You did.”

Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann said the success of the Dillard case is the result of outstanding work by police and Deputy Prosecutors Armando Salinas and Mary Ryan.

“It hasn’t gotten easier,

and it never will”

Five of Gland’s loved ones made victim impact statements urging Clymer to hand down the maximum sentence for the heinous crime for which they say Dillard has shown no remorse.

Even as three of the speakers yesterday turned to Dillard to look him in the eye, sometimes gesturing and yelling, to say they hope all of his worst nightmares come true and that he dies alone and scared like Gland, Dillard had no reaction. He later declined to make a personal statement.

First on the stand was Courtney Bocard, who said Nicole was her best friend since they were teenagers. “We met when we were 14,” Bocard said. “Ever since then, she lit up my world. She was the funniest girl I ever met.”

Bocard said Gland had so much life ahead of her, and her absence will never get easier. “All I want for my girl is justice, and the fact that Christopher Dillard has sat here for two-and-a-half years with no remorse is disgusting,” she said.

Bocard then turned to Dillard, looked him in the eye, and with a stone face said, “I hope you’re ashamed of yourself. You deserve the worst life had to offer.”

Chet Johns, a longtime friend of Gland’s parents Matt and Jessica Gland, was next. Johns also rebuked Dillard for showing no remorse. “At no point did he show any sign of human feelings, and I doubt he would develop any in jail,” Johns said.

Johns, who said he himself is a recovering alcoholic, said Dillard’s actions are those of someone who has never been ready for recovery and that “no one in his path would be truly safe” if he were released.

Gland’s cousin Natalie Albert took the stand next. Albert said her cousin’s murder has shattered her worldview and left her with severe anxiety. “To this day, I work very hard to choose hope over fear,” she said.

“It’s been nearly two years and eight months, but time has stood still for us in Nicole’s family,” Albert said. “There is only one way we can begin to recover. We need to be assured that no one else will ever have to write a victim impact statement because of Christopher Dillard.”

“Nicole was so valuable in this world and precious to us. Her life was stolen, and we were all robbed.”

“This piece of paper

cannot even come close”

Matt and Jessica Gland took the stand last. Matt Gland began in silence by picking up a picture of Nicole that was sitting on the prosecution’s table. He held it up wanting Dillard to look at it.

“There is no way our words and our feelings can be conveyed. No way,” he said in a booming voice. “On paper? Are you kidding me?”

“This apparently is a healing process, but all this is is just another chapter of a horror story created by you. Only you,” Gland said to Dillard.

Gland said his daughter was just trying to find her way in life like anyone else. He and his wife don’t smile or laugh as much anymore. They lie awake unable to sleep, thinking about how scared their daughter must have been. “To say we’re different people is an understatement.”

Gland said simple things are hard. They have to pick PG-rated movies. Even cutting a tomato in the kitchen transports them to their daughter’s final moments.

Both Matt and Jessica Gland said the murder has ruined their fond memories of growing up in Chesterton. They won’t visit downtown anymore. “I delivered papers for the Chesterton Tribune for years. I’d pick up my papers mere yards from where you slaughtered her,” Matt Gland said.

Gland railed against the Defense’s argument that the murder was part of a drug deal. “My daughter’s system was clear of drugs. All lies to denigrate her. Cast aspersions on her so she seemed maybe less than human,” he said. “Nicole Elizabeth Gland mattered. She was a person. A real human being,”

Gland said he hopes Dillard finds out what his daughter felt like when she died--alone and afraid--that he hopes Dillard prays to whoever his God is for mercy, and that his prayers go unanswered.

“You have sentenced us to a lifetime of pain,” Jessica Gland said. “I hope all your nightmares come true.”

Jessica Gland said Nicole was always outgoing and a confidante to all who knew her. She was a Girl Scout from Daisies all the way through Cadettes--one of the highest levels. She played soccer and danced. Her Chesterton Tribune obituary says she loved elephants, chocolate, the beach, the White Sox, and the Blackhawks, and her favorite season was fall.

The couple said their first grandchild was born recently. Her middle name is Nicole.

“One day someone’s going to have to explain to that beautiful little girl what her name means,” Matt Gland said.” I don’t know who’s going to do that.”

 

Posted 1/3/2020

 

 
 
 

 

 

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