Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer sentenced Christopher Dillard to 65 years in
prison, the maximum sentence, yesterday following a series of victim impact
statements that urged him to make sure Dillard never breathes free air
A jury found
Dillard guilty in November of the 2017 murder of Nicole Gland. Gland and
Dillard both worked at the former Upper Deck Lounge at 139 S. Calumet Road,
Chesterton. Gland was stabbed more than 20 times in the head, neck, and
torso in the early hours of April 19, 2017, behind the bar. A Chesterton
Tribune employee found her slumped over in her vehicle as he arrived to
work the next morning.
contended that Dillard killed Gland in a drug and alcohol induced haze
because she resisted his sexual advances. Witnesses testified that Dillard’s
DNA was found on Gland’s body, that he expressed sexual desires for her in
the months leading up to her murder, and that he confessed to various cell
mates and to his girlfriend in recorded jail phone calls after his arrest.
The jury didn’t buy the Defense’s claim that no definitive evidence linked
Dillard to the crime and that shoddy police work had made a victim of him.
In addition to
victim impact statements, the Prosecution submitted a list of prior offenses
Dillard had been charged with in Riverside, Calif. and Hobart, Ind. to
factor into sentencing.
According to Porter
County Sheriff’s Police Captain Jeff Biggs, Dillard was charged with
domestic battery against his long-time girlfriend in Hobart. He was also
charged with making sexually explicit “terroristic threats” to a woman via
phone while he was living in California in 1999. The threats were not just
against her, but also against her then-five-year-old daughter, and Dillard
had lived down the street from them, according to Biggs.
attorney Russell W. Brown argued yesterday that there were mitigating
factors in the killing, including that Dillard suffered abuse at the hands
of his father that led him to substance abuse later in life. Brown said
Dillard maintains his innocence regarding the phone threats, despite notes
in the original police report on the incident that say Dillard confessed to
making the calls just to get a reaction.
consider any mitigating factors. “You are responsible for your actions,”
Clymer said when he sentenced Dillard. “The drugs didn’t kill Nicole Gland.
Prosecutor Gary Germann said the success of the Dillard case is the result
of outstanding work by police and Deputy Prosecutors Armando Salinas and
“It hasn’t gotten
and it never will”
Five of Gland’s
loved ones made victim impact statements urging Clymer to hand down the
maximum sentence for the heinous crime for which they say Dillard has shown
Even as three of
the speakers yesterday turned to Dillard to look him in the eye, sometimes
gesturing and yelling, to say they hope all of his worst nightmares come
true and that he dies alone and scared like Gland, Dillard had no reaction.
He later declined to make a personal statement.
First on the stand
was Courtney Bocard, who said Nicole was her best friend since they were
teenagers. “We met when we were 14,” Bocard said. “Ever since then, she lit
up my world. She was the funniest girl I ever met.”
Bocard said Gland
had so much life ahead of her, and her absence will never get easier. “All I
want for my girl is justice, and the fact that Christopher Dillard has sat
here for two-and-a-half years with no remorse is disgusting,” she said.
Bocard then turned
to Dillard, looked him in the eye, and with a stone face said, “I hope
you’re ashamed of yourself. You deserve the worst life had to offer.”
Chet Johns, a
longtime friend of Gland’s parents Matt and Jessica Gland, was next. Johns
also rebuked Dillard for showing no remorse. “At no point did he show any
sign of human feelings, and I doubt he would develop any in jail,” Johns
Johns, who said he
himself is a recovering alcoholic, said Dillard’s actions are those of
someone who has never been ready for recovery and that “no one in his path
would be truly safe” if he were released.
Natalie Albert took the stand next. Albert said her cousin’s murder has
shattered her worldview and left her with severe anxiety. “To this day, I
work very hard to choose hope over fear,” she said.
“It’s been nearly
two years and eight months, but time has stood still for us in Nicole’s
family,” Albert said. “There is only one way we can begin to recover. We
need to be assured that no one else will ever have to write a victim impact
statement because of Christopher Dillard.”
“Nicole was so
valuable in this world and precious to us. Her life was stolen, and we were
“This piece of
cannot even come
Matt and Jessica
Gland took the stand last. Matt Gland began in silence by picking up a
picture of Nicole that was sitting on the prosecution’s table. He held it up
wanting Dillard to look at it.
“There is no way
our words and our feelings can be conveyed. No way,” he said in a booming
voice. “On paper? Are you kidding me?”
“This apparently is
a healing process, but all this is is just another chapter of a horror story
created by you. Only you,” Gland said to Dillard.
Gland said his
daughter was just trying to find her way in life like anyone else. He and
his wife don’t smile or laugh as much anymore. They lie awake unable to
sleep, thinking about how scared their daughter must have been. “To say
we’re different people is an understatement.”
Gland said simple
things are hard. They have to pick PG-rated movies. Even cutting a tomato in
the kitchen transports them to their daughter’s final moments.
Both Matt and
Jessica Gland said the murder has ruined their fond memories of growing up
in Chesterton. They won’t visit downtown anymore. “I delivered papers for
the Chesterton Tribune for years. I’d pick up my papers mere yards
from where you slaughtered her,” Matt Gland said.
against the Defense’s argument that the murder was part of a drug deal. “My
daughter’s system was clear of drugs. All lies to denigrate her. Cast
aspersions on her so she seemed maybe less than human,” he said. “Nicole
Elizabeth Gland mattered. She was a person. A real human being,”
Gland said he hopes
Dillard finds out what his daughter felt like when she died--alone and
afraid--that he hopes Dillard prays to whoever his God is for mercy, and
that his prayers go unanswered.
“You have sentenced
us to a lifetime of pain,” Jessica Gland said. “I hope all your nightmares
Jessica Gland said
Nicole was always outgoing and a confidante to all who knew her. She was a
Girl Scout from Daisies all the way through Cadettes--one of the highest
levels. She played soccer and danced. Her Chesterton Tribune obituary
says she loved elephants, chocolate, the beach, the White Sox, and the
Blackhawks, and her favorite season was fall.
The couple said
their first grandchild was born recently. Her middle name is Nicole.
“One day someone’s
going to have to explain to that beautiful little girl what her name means,”
Matt Gland said.” I don’t know who’s going to do that.”