Christopher Dillard will continue awaiting trial in Porter County Jail after
Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied a motion to release him on
his own recognizance yesterday pending his Sept. 30 trial.
In fact, Dillard’s
trial may not even be able to start Sept 30, according to the Prosecution,
because a third-party DNA expert the defense requested be present during
examination of evidence has not been in contact with the Prosecution’s DNA
attorney Russell W. Brown Jr. argued in a July 29 motion that the
Prosecutor’s Office has failed to bring Dillard to trial in a timely
fashion, which, per Indiana Criminal Rule 4(A), is six months from the date
charges were first filed: April 21, 2017.
Delays totaling 600
days attributed to the defense, including change of venue motions, motions
to suppress, and appeals filed by Dillard’s former attorney Bob Harper, do
not count against the State. However, Brown contends that Dillard has been
detained for an aggregate of 229 days, which is 49 days in excess of the 180
days allowed under Criminal Rule 4(A).
In a hearing
yesterday, Brown argued that the case was “ripe for trial” as soon as the
defense’s motion to change venue for the trial was denied April 12 this
year, at which time, Brown contends that Dillard had been detained for 121
days through no fault of the defense. Brown argued that Dillard should have
been brought to trial before July 10, and that it was incumbent upon the
Prosecution to know its Rule 4(A) responsibility and request that the trial
be moved up from its scheduled date.
contended that the Prosecution’s rebuttal to his motion--that the State is
only responsible for 91 days of delay after the initial charge-- is too
reliant upon a 1975 Indiana Supreme Court ruling in a case where the
defense’s request for a change of judge delayed proceedings.
for the Prosecution, countered that his reference to that case was tertiary
to the central arguments of his rebuttal, which is that the 108 days between
the April 12 hearing and the motion to release is not a delay that can be
charged to the State. Salinas also noted the court schedule wouldn’t allow a
sooner trial date.
Clymer ruled with
the Prosecution. Clymer also said change-ups on the defense side could have
delayed an earlier trial, including the fact that Dillard is on his third
attorney. Clymer said Harper stepped down as Dillard’s counsel after the
change of venue hearing and another attorney represented Dillard for a few
days before Brown took over. Clymer also noted the State cannot be at fault
if Harper’s availability dictated the Sept. 30 trial date.
Also at issue,
Clymer said, is the fact that the defense filed a motion to compel a third
party, the Times Media Co., to provide evidence yesterday morning at 9:42
a.m. “I don’t think it’s fair to the state to ask them to respond to a
motion filed six hours ago,” Clymer said, adding that a party to the motion
has 15 days to object under the law.
that he doesn’t think the State has “a dog in that fight” since his motion
to compel was aimed at the Times, but Clymer said they might, “and
I’d like to know if that dog has anything to say.” Salinas reported he’ll be
prepared to respond to the motion to compel by Friday, which is the last
pretrial hearing scheduled for the case at 9 a.m.
Clymer said Brown
has also filed a renewed motion for change of venue, which may be moot if he
finds the motion to compel has no teeth. Clymer noted, per his April 12
ruling, he still plans to start jury selection early for the trial and cast
a wider net. Potential jurors in the case will also be given a questionnaire
to determine if they have prior knowledge of the case that prevents
impartiality, and Clymer is open to reconsidering the change of venue if he
finds the jury pool in Porter County tainted.
Clymer said he’ll
rule on the motion to compel Friday, at which time, he may rule again on the
change of venue. He also asked that the prosecution provide an update on DNA
Last month, Clymer
granted the defense the right to have a third-party expert observe a DNA
test the Prosecution ordered since the test requires the consumption of the
whole piece of evidence, a strand of hair.
yesterday that his expert has not been contacted by anyone at the Indiana
State Police DNA lab where the sample is supposed to be tested. The
Prosecution said the lab is waiting for Brown’s expert to reach out.
Clymer asked if the
results of the DNA test will be ready for the Sept. 30 trial. The
Prosecution said they can’t be sure because Brown’s expert will need to be
vetted by the lab before observing the test, and the results of the test
could take six weeks.
Clymer warned if
the failure to communicate causes a delay, it will be chargeable to the
responsible party under Rule 4(A).
Dillard is awaiting
trial for the 2017 murder of 24-year-old Nicole Gland, a bartender at the
former Upper Deck Lounge at 139 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton, where Dillard
also worked as a bouncer. Gland’s body was found slumped over in her car
directly behind the offices of the Chesterton Tribune April 19, 2017.
An autopsy showed that she had been stabbed 24 times in the head, neck, and
arisen in trying the case, since an appeals court suppressed a confession
Dillard reportedly made to Chesterton police after being denied counsel
three times in an 11-hour interrogation. The Indiana Supreme Court declined
to reverse the suppression ruling. The defense has also argued that local
media coverage of the case and the suppression rulings, have tainted the
jury pool in Porter County and requested documentation from the Times
and the Chesterton Tribune related to their coverage of the case.