Chesterton Tribune



Defense leans hard on CPD in 2nd day of trial

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The Defense continued probing Wednesday for details of alleged missteps in the Chesterton Police Department’s investigation of the murder of Nicole Gland.

Opening arguments in the trial of Christopher Dillard, who stands accused of murdering Gland in the early morning hours of April 19, 2017, were Tuesday.

The Defense spared no time Wednesday, the first day evidence was presented, in laying the foundation for its narrative that Dillard is a victim of the CPD’s “incompetence.”

Dillard’s defense attorney Russell Brown Jr. homed in on a crime scene photo that depicts what could be a drop of blood on the ground near Gland’s vehicle, repeatedly questioning CPD Detective Nick Brown and Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski on cross examination about why the reddish/brown substance was not collected as evidence, while other items were collected and sent to the Indiana State Police lab for testing.

The photo, Prosecution’s exhibit 34, shows a drop of a red substance on a small patch of ground between the front driver’s side tire of Gland’s silver SUV and the side of the dumpster her vehicle was found mashed against.

Brown told Deputy Prosecutor Mary Ryan no samples of the substance were collected and tested, to his knowledge. When Ryan asked why, Brown offered that CPD observed changes in temperature and cloud cover that seemed to signal rain as their investigation continued through late morning April 19. “We were working against the clock trying to secure what we had before any inclement weather came down,” he said.

On cross examination, Russell Brown asked Nick Brown what he thought the substance was, based on his years in law enforcement. Presiding Judge Jeffrey Clymer upheld an objection from the Prosecution that the question called for speculation. Russell Brown also asked on cross if this was the first murder case of Detective Brown’s career; Brown said it was.

Clymer upheld another objection for speculation when Brown tried questioning the Detective on whether or not people who commit stabbings typically injure themselves in the process.

Brown moved on, asking why Nick Brown was comfortable saying the red substance in Gland’s vehicle was blood, but hesitated to say the substance photographed on the ground was. He responded, “Because it was outside the vehicle.” Nick Brown said he based his observations of the car’s interior on the fact that Gland’s body was inside, and she had sustained massive injuries.

The Defense then turned to Nick Brown’s comment about the weather. “You were so concerned about the weather that you worried about two quarters, but you didn’t worry about the red substance outside Nicole Gland’s door?”

The Defense was referring to Prosecution exhibits 62 and 63, two quarters collected from the ground near Gland’s vehicle shortly after her body was discovered. Nick Brown testified the quarters, along with at least two cigarette butts recovered from the immediate scene, were sent to the Indiana State Police lab for testing. Also found at the scene was a razor blade/utility knife with brown markings, a small knotted piece of plastic/baggie, and a green-handled serrated knife, Brown said.

Nick Brown further testified that he didn’t know if the red substance near Gland’s front tire was discovered at the scene or later upon review of photographs.

The crime scene log shows Brown left the scene at 12:14 p.m. to follow the tow truck carrying Gland’s SUV. Rain started just after the vehicle was secured in the CPD’s garage, according to Brown.

Russell Brown asked, “Were you in a hurry?” Nick Brown replied, “Not a panic, but we were concerned about the weather changing.”

Brown earlier gave a detailed description of the crime scene and his activities and movements on the scene, at the behest of the Prosecution. He based his descriptions on approximately 60 crime scene photos. Gland’s vehicle was found in park, not running. Gland’s keys, as well as her purse and cell phone were missing, Brown testified.

That morning, the Prosecution’s first witness had been Gland’s father, Matthew Gland. He testified that Gland was scheduled to work at the Upper Deck Lounge the night of the crime. Gland said the three items that were missing at the time of the murder have never been returned to him, and, to his knowledge, never found.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Armando Salinas asked Matthew Gland if Nicole kept anything unique on her key ring. He said she had some “glitzy” things, something that said “Love,” and elephants on her key chain. Elephants, he added, are his wife’s favorite animal, “My wife imparted her love of that animal to our daughter.”

On cross examination, Brown asked Matthew Gland who Nicole’s boyfriend was at the time of the murder; he responded it was Santos Ortiz. Brown then asked if Gland had, in the days following the murder, asked Ortiz if he had anything to do with what happened to Nicole. Gland said he did, because it was his first instinct to do so.

Brown asked Gland to describe his daughter’s relationship with Ortiz. Gland stated Ortiz and Nicole had an “on again, off again” relationship for approximately two years, and said it was never violent.

Gland also testified he “probably did” ask Chief Cincoski again if Ortiz was involved when Cincoski updated him that a suspect was in custody.

After that testimony, Clymer released Gland from his witness subpoena, freeing him to watch the proceedings from the audience.

Cincoski, who took the stand after Nick Brown, also gave a detailed description of his activities and movements at the scene at the Prosecution’s behest. He testified that he placed evidence placards and took measurements to later produce a scale diagram of the scene. He also called in then Deputy Prosecutors Cheryl Polarek and Matt Frost to advise them of the incident. Cincoski testified he collected the two coins, the razor blade, and the plastic.

When asked about the red substance in exhibit 34 on cross examination, Cincoski said he didn’t collect a sample or direct anyone else to collect a sample of the substance. Brown asked what appeared to be in the photo, and Cincoski said the substance “appears it could resemble a blood dot.” Brown asked if Cincoski placed an evidence placard near the substance; Cincoski said he didn’t. Prompted by Brown, Cincoski said he has investigated stabbing incidents before.



Posted 10/25/2019




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