Chesterton Tribune



Jury hears of evidence collection from vehicles

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Yesterday the jury in the Upper Deck murder case heard testimony from the Indiana State Police crime scene investigator who examined Nicole Glandís SUV and Christopher Dillardís truck.

Dillard has pled not guilty to killing Gland behind the Upper Deck Lounge, formerly at 139 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton, after she closed the bar in the early hours of April 19, 2017. Dillard had been a bouncer at Upper Deck while Gland was a bartender there.

Glandís body was found slumped over in her SUV, which had hit and come to rest against a dumpster behind the office of the Chesterton Tribune, directly next door to The Upper Deck. Witnesses have testified that Dillard was driving a black 1997 Ford Ranger pickup truck at the time of the murder.

Indiana State Police Sergeant and Crime Scene Investigator Gerald Michalak testified yesterday that he examined and collected evidence from both vehicles the day after the murder. He went through a number of photographs he took during the examination and explained them to the jury.

Michalak said he swabbed several areas of the carís interior including the ceiling, the rear and front passenger side doors, and the rear passenger side window. He collected two hairs (one from the steering wheel and one from the window track of the rear passenger side window), a Bic lighter, a white paper bag that appeared to be stained with blood, a cup lid and straw, a food wrapper, and fingerprints from both the inside and outside of the vehicle.

The hairs, fingerprints, swabs, and white paper bag were all subject to additional testing at the ISP Lowell lab, Michalak said. He also said that a white powdery substance on the front passenger side of Glandís vehicle field-tested positive for cocaine.

In the cab of Dillardís truck, Michalak said he found a pair of black or gray work gloves, one of which contained a plastic bag of a plant-like material that field tested positive for the active ingredient in marijuana, and a box of cigarettes that contained a small bag with a white powdery substance. There was no evidence of biological material on the gloves, Michalak said.

Kimberly Ivanyo, a forensic scientist assigned to the drug unit at ISPís Lowell lab, later testified that the material found in the glove turned out to be 20.92 grams of marijuana and the powder from the cigarette box turned out to be 1.53 grams of cocaine.

Michalak said he also found a utility knife, some prescription pill bottles, a debit card belonging to Dillardís then-girlfriend, and some janitorial supplies in the cab of the truck. The bed of the truck was nearly filled with scrap metal, he said.

Cross examination

On cross, Dillardís defense attorney Russell W. Brown presented Michalak with items the Chesterton Police Department collected at the scene of the crime and then began a line of questioning about what Michalak hypothetically would or would not collect at a scene.

Brown asked if Michalak would typically collect blood found on the ground at a scene. Michalak said he doesnít always collect blood from everywhere that it is present at a scene. He decides what appears relevant based on the totality of the circumstances.

Brown asked Michalak if he had seen a photo of what could have been a drop of blood on the ground between Glandís front driver side tire and the dumpster her vehicle was found against. Brown has previously questioned why CPD didnít collect the red substance shown in that photo.

Michalak said he had seen it. Brown asked if Michalak would have collected that. Michalak said it would depend. ďThere is no way to tell in a photo if a substance is blood. The totality of the scene would dictate that,Ē he added.

On redirect, Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan asked Michalak how he would decide what blood to collect at a scene. Michalak said, at a scene where there is a lot of blood, he would look for something that ďyou kind of raise your eyebrow at.Ē ďWe look for blood that might look out of place, and thatís where we start with collection,Ē he added.

Brown did not ask if Michalak found any blood in Dillardís truck, but Michalak did not report finding any, and none of his photographs of the truck appeared to show blood.

Driverís side window fingerprints

Tim Pycraft, a forensic scientist specializing in prints and impressions at the ISP Lowell lab, said he examined fingerprints lifted from the outside of Glandís driverís side window, first comparing them to Gland and Dillard. They were not compatible with Dillardís prints, but Pycraft said he was initially able to determine that at least one of them was not Glandís.

Porter County Sheriffís Police Captain Jeff Biggs testified that he submitted fingerprints from 16 people who may have had contact with Glandís vehicle--including family, friends, her boyfriend, some police officers, the tow truck drivers who removed her SUV from the scene, and others--in hopes of Pycraft finding a match.

The prints on the window turned out to be from Zach Muller, the former Chesterton Tribune press operator who first discovered her vehicle, Pycraft said. Muller testified on the first day of trial that he smacked the driverís side window of the vehicle in an effort to rouse Gland, who he first thought was passed out.


Posted 10/31/2019







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