Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied a request for a change of venue for the
trial of Christopher Dillard, who stands accused of the 2017 murder of Upper
Deck Lounge bartender Nicole Gland.
Both Dillard and
Gland worked at the Upper Deck Lounge, formerly at 139 1/2 S. Calumet Road.
Gland’s body was found in her vehicle behind the bar April 19, 2017. The
cause of death was multiple stab wounds to the head, neck, and torso.
Dillard has pleaded not guilty.
Attorney Bob Harper argued Friday that the jury pool in Porter County has
been tainted by prejudicial, inflammatory media coverage related to
Dillard’s taped confession, which an Indiana Appeals Court threw out on the
grounds that the confession was made after Chesterton Police Chief Dave
Cincoski denied Dillard access to legal counsel three times in an 11-hour
Harper argued that
trying Dillard in Porter County would violate his constitutional rights to
be protected against implicating himself in the commission of a crime and to
have an impartial jury, on those grounds.
Harper called two
witnesses: Nina Subartowicz, Chesterton resident who launched a Change.org
petition calling for Cincoski’s removal in response to the thrown-out
confession, and Northwest Indiana Times Reporter Bob Kasarda, who has
consistently covered the case for the Times.
On the stand,
Subartowicz said her petition garnered approximately 1,500 signatures.
Kasarda about the amount of feedback his stories about the case received on
social media, noting that one story had over 150 comments and 200 shares.
When asked what that meant, Kasarda said he’s not a Facebook expert, but
some people may have commented multiples times. Kasarda also said he tends
not to monitor social media activity on his stories.
conceded media coverage of the case mentioning the taped confession is
inflammatory since it mentions information that can’t be used at trial. They
contended, however, that the number of social media comments and petition
signatures Harper presented pales in comparison to Porter County’s
population of more than 168,000.
Clymer found with
the Prosecution, denying the request on the condition that he would
reconsider changing venue, “If it becomes apparent during jury selection
that we cannot obtain an impartial jury in this County.”
Clymer said the
County will cast a wider net in hopes of finding jurors who have not been
exposed to the details of the case, and those reporting to jury duty will
respond to a questionnaire determining their knowledge of the case during
Clymer said the
trial will be fair for everyone involved. “We should end up with jurors who
have no knowledge of the case.”
Clymer scheduled a
final pre-trial hearing for Aug. 23. Jury selection will begin Sept. 30.