Chesterton Tribune



Prosecution rests in Dillard case

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The jury in the Upper Deck murder case yesterday heard the final details of law enforcementís investigation into the murder of Nicole Gland.

The Prosecution rested its case at approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Closing arguments are expected for Wednesday, after which the jury will be released to deliberate.

In the case, Christopher Dillard is charged with murder and has pled not guilty to killing Gland in the early hours of April 19, 2017 behind the former Upper Deck Lounge, 139 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton, after she closed the bar. Gland had been a bartender there, and Dillard a bouncer.

Before the Prosecution rested, the State called Porter County Sheriffís Police Captain Jeff Biggs to explain his role in the investigation into Glandís death and called Chesterton Police Detective Nick Brown to discuss a knife that was reported found in the area behind the former Upper Deck Lounge in September 2017.

Biggs said he was appointed to a special task force formed by new Porter County Prosecutor Gary German in January 2019, and told to review the case materials. The task force was comprised of Detectives from the Portage and Valparaiso police departments, the PCSP, and the Indiana State Police, Biggs said.

Biggs said the task force reviewed original evidence and attempted to gather new material, which included looking for and interviewing new witnesses and reviewing security footage, among other tasks.

The Prosecution showed the jury footage from a law office at the northwest corner of S. Calumet Road and Lincoln in Chesterton, a couple blocks south of Upper Deck. That video shows the April 19, 2017 movements of a small, dark colored pickup truck matching the description of the truck Dillard drove.

At approximately 12:11 a.m. the truck is seen heading south. Minutes later, witnesses put Dillard at Danny Oís, a couple miles south of Upper Deck on S. Calumet Road. Shortly after 2 a.m., after witnesses say Dillard left Danny Oís, the truck is seen northbound on Calumet. It passes the law office two more times between 2 and 3 a.m. before the last time it is seen, at approximately 3:09 a.m., turning west off of S. Calumet Road onto Lincoln.

Biggs said he also reviewed footage of a similar truck moving down the main road of the Pleasant Valley mobile home park and storage area later that night. That is the same area where Glandís phone last pinged at approximately 3:30 a.m. April 19 and a police K9 picked up Dillardís scent a few days later.

The Prosecution asked Biggs if the footage shows vehicles consistent with what Glandís then-boyfriend Santos Ortiz or Upper Deck bar owner Jason Budzevski would have been driving. Biggs said the footage doesnít, though the Defense later established on cross examination that a vehicle could have avoided both cameras to get to areas of interest.

Biggs said it was only this year that the task force found witnesses who reported Dillard had sexual desires for Gland, and those details were not made public prior to the beginning of the trial. Biggs also spoke to the value of the single gram of cocaine Dillard has said he was planning to sell to Gland the night of her murder. Biggs said when he last worked narcotics in 2010, a gram of cocaine was going for $60. Dillard said in statements to police that he had agreed to sell Gland some marijuana and the gram of cocaine for only $45.

The Prosecution also asked Biggs the approximate amount of money Beverly Galle, Dillardís former girlfriend, has been spending receiving phone calls from Dillard while Dillard has been incarcerated. Judge Jeffrey Clymer overruled an objection from the Defense when Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan argued that whether or not Galle is spending large sums of money on Dillard speaks to her credibility as a witness, but Biggs didnít know how much the jail phone calls cost.

Dillardís defense attorney Russell W. Brown asked Biggs why security video from Dillardís intake, when he reportedly told a cell mate details of the crime, was not obtained. Biggs said the footage no longer existed when he started investigating this year. In response to a series of questions about the video and records kept at the jail, including a direct question about Chesterton Police efforts, Biggs said Chesterton Police could have obtained records and found that video if they had looked earlier.

Brown also asked Biggs to confirm that some evidence, phone records from Ortiz, was ďmissing.Ē Biggs said it was not missing, but was never collected.

CPD Detective Brown also took the stand again yesterday. Brown testified that he was called to the area behind the former Upper Deck in September 2017 for a report of a knife found. Brown said he didnít collect the knife as evidence because it was a ďdinner typeĒ steak knife that appeared to have greasy residue on it and looked as if it had fallen from the back patio of the former Octave Grill. Brown said he knew the knife that was used in the murder was large and not serrated, so the knife found in September wasnít what he was looking for related to the Gland case.

The Defense questioned why Brown didnít write a report of that incident or take photos of the knife. Attorney Brown asked, ďThe juryís just supposed to take your word for it two and a half years later that that knife wasnít the murder weapon?Ē Detective Brown responded in the affirmative.



Posted 11/6/2019




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