Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied a motion to dismiss charges against
Christopher Dillard, who stands accused of the 2017 murder of Upper Deck
Lounge bartender Nicole Gland, at a hearing yesterday.
three hours of arguments and conflicting witness testimony, Clymer concluded
that the Defense failed to meet its burden of proof after it contended that
Dillard’s constitutional rights to due process were violated because law
enforcement failed to collect and preserve evidence that had the potential
to exonerate him.
Clymer ruled that a
knife found in the area behind the former Upper Deck Lounge approximately
five months after the murder was potentially useful in the case, but the
Defense failed to prove that the State acted in bad faith by not preserving
the knife as evidence. Clymer also said a jury should decide on the
conflicting accounts surrounding discovery of the knife.
The Defense filed
the motion to dismiss on Sept. 27, in which Dillard’s Attorney Russell W.
Brown Jr., stated Chesterton Police Detective Nicholas Brown responded to a
report of a knife being found behind the Upper Deck Lounge, photographed the
knife, and took it into custody. The motion goes on to say that the knife
was then lost or destroyed before it could be examined, which is a violation
of Dillard’s rights to due process because the State is obligated to
preserve evidence with exculpatory potential.
Brown testified he
responded to a report of a knife found in that area on Sept. 13, 2017, but
that he did not recall photographing it and did not take possession of the
knife because it was obviously not the type of knife used in Gland’s murder.
Brown testified the knife appeared to have grease on its blade and to have
fallen from the rear deck of the former Octave Grill restaurant, where a
propane grill was kept at the time.
testified he discovered the knife in question under a downspout while mowing
grass behind his apartment in the 100-block of S. Calumet Road. Both
Detective Brown and Kennoy testified the knife was a serrated steak knife.
Kennoy estimated it had a seven- or eight-inch blade.
“The knife did not
have any apparent evidentiary value” in the case of Gland’s murder because
it wasn’t the right kind of knife, according to Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan.
“That’s not the knife that inflicted her injuries,” Ryan said.
Gland’s 24 stab
wounds to the head, neck, and torso were inflicted with a straight-bladed
kitchen knife with a seven- or eight-inch blade, according to the results of
a forensic autopsy.
Ryan also implied
that the knife came to rest where Kennoy found it after the murder
because at least three searches of the area by Chesterton, Porter, and
Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force officers turned up no weapons in
the week after Gland’s body was found.
argument relied heavily on the testimony of a third witness, Cole Feitshans,
who testified that he and Kennoy found the knife together. Yesterday, he
described the knife as a straight-bladed “chef’s knife” with a seven- to
eight-inch blade, though he has said it was an eight-to 10-inch blade in
testified that a CPD officer who he did not recognize (in full uniform,
driving a fully-marked squad car) responded to the Sept. 13, 2017 call.
Brown testified he was driving his unmarked black Ford Explorer and not in
full uniform when he responded.
noted that dispatch records show Brown was contacted directly via his cell
phone when the call came in, and the call was not broadcast to other
Feitshans, his neighbor at the time, was not with him when he found the
knife, but came outside after an officer was on scene.
Prosecutor Armando Salinas asked Feitshans if he knows Detective Brown.
Feitshans said he does due to past run-ins, including one where Brown
arrested him. When asked, Feitshans testified that it’s fair to say he’s
“not particularly” fond of Brown.
In other business,
Clymer confirmed that the results of a DNA test on a strand of hair found in
Gland’s vehicle are available and have been shared among the Prosecution and
The Prosecution has
requested that they be allowed to discuss certain suppressed material if
Dillard opens the door to it while he’s on the stand. Clymer said he would
decide that after a jury is selected, and Dillard will be notified of the
decision before he decides whether or not to take the stand.
Clymer reported a
list of potential jurors is ready. Jury selection begins Oct. 21, when
potential jurors will be given a supplemental questionnaire to determine if
they have prior knowledge of the case. If jury selection goes off without a
hitch, opening arguments are likely to start either Oct. 22 or 23, according