Chesterton Tribune



Appeals court ruling stands in Upper Deck murder

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The Indiana Supreme Court, as of yesterday, Dec. 6, at 2:29 p.m., has declined to revisit the Sept. 7 Indiana Appeals Court ruling in which the Court elected to suppress all statements made by accused murderer Christopher Dillard after he requested counsel in an April 20, 2017 interrogation with Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski, during which Dillard also made incriminating statements to his girlfriend in a taped conversation.

Dillard is accused of the murder of Nicole Gland, who was a bartender at the Upper Deck Lounge, formerly at 139 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton. Gland’s body was found in her car on the morning of April 19, 2017 directly behind the offices of the Chesterton Tribune. The results of a forensic autopsy later revealed that she was stabbed 24 times in the head, neck, and torso.

Dillard’s defense attorney, Bob Harper, released a statement this morning saying the decision “upholds basic constitutional principles. To rule otherwise, the Courts would be telling law enforcement that it is alright to take someone in custody without a warrant, hold them for 11-12 hours without being able to call family or an attorney, deprive them of their medicine after several requests and continue questioning after repeated requests to talk to an attorney.”

According to the Sept. 7 Appeals Court decision, Cincoski’s interrogation of Dillard began at approximately 10:30 p.m. April 20, 2017, and concluded at approximately 10:32 a.m. the next day. 87 minutes in--at 11:57 p.m.--Dillard made his first of several requests for legal counsel.

The decision further says that in the hours following, Cincoski denied several of Dillard’s requests for diabetes medication and at one point questioned Dillard for about 20 minutes while Dillard was face down on the floor of the interrogation room. The decision states that Dillard’s girlfriend was let into the interrogation room to speak with him alone at his request at 10:13 a.m., though Dillard was warned that the room was recorded and there was no expectation of privacy inside. Subsequently, Dillard made incriminating statements to his girlfriend, including, “I destroyed my life,” and “I killed that girl.”

That taped admission, and everything else said after 11:57 p.m. in the course of the interrogation, is among the fruit from the poisonous tree rejected by the Court on the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which established that an interrogation by law enforcement must cease when a person being questioned requests an attorney, and that the person must then be given time to confer with the attorney and has the right to have an attorney present during further questioning.

The Appeals Court decided that “Dillard never willingly or voluntarily waived his right to legal counsel” because Dillard was held for over 11 hours, during which time Cincoski ignored three of Dillard’s requests for counsel and three of Dillard’s requests for medication and persisted in questioning him while Dillard was trying to rest on the floor.

An order from the Indiana Supreme Court, signed by Chief Justice of Indiana Loretta H. Rush, states that the Ind. Supreme Court declines to review the case with all justices in agreement.

Dillard was charged with the murder chiefly on the strength of the taped admission he made to his girlfriend, after an initial ruling by Judge Pro Tem Thomas Webber Sr. that Dillard’s statements to his girlfriend were admissible because Dillard was informed the conversation would be recorded.

Cheryl Polarek, deputy prosecutor handling Dillard’s case in Porter County, did not say whether her office will pursue the case against Dillard with what evidence remains. Polarek instead took aim at Cincoski.

“It makes it very difficult to repair the damage done by Chief Cincoski’s interrogation of Christopher Dillard, and the violation of his rights, when the Porter County Prosecutor’s Office was never made aware that the Chesterton Police Department had a suspect, much less a person in custody interrogating him,” Polarek wrote in an email to the Chesterton Tribune.

Polarek further wrote that she didn’t receive a request for a search warrant for Dillard’s clothing, which were collected the night of the interrogation, until 5 a.m. the morning after the interrogation was complete.

“At no time would we have condoned the manner in which the interrogation took place, had we been brought in on the fact that one was even taking place. In litigating the matters before the trial court, we attempted our best effort to preserve the admission that Christopher Dillard made to his girlfriend,” Polarek wrote.



Posted 12/7/2018








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