Chesterton Tribune



Judge: Dillard statement to girlfriend, 'I killed that girl,' is admissible

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The self-incriminating statement made by accused murderer Christopher Dillard to his girlfriend--“I killed the girl”--following a lengthy interview at the Chesterton Police Department station on April 19-20, will be admissible as evidence at his trial.

Also admissible: certain statements made to Police Chief Dave Cincoski after Dillard spoke to his girlfriend, which could be interpreted as self-incriminating.

That’s the substance of the ruling, issued by Judge Pro Tem Thomas Webber Sr. on Tuesday, on the motion to suppress filed by Dillard’s attorney, Bob Harper, on July 31.

Dillard was formally charged with the murder of Nicole Gland on April 21, two days after she was found deceased in her car on Lois Lane, behind the Chesterton Tribune building. A forensic autopsy later determined that she’d been stabbed 24 times in the torso, neck, and head.

Gland worked as a bartender at the now defunct Upper Deck, two doors down from the Tribune offices, and was slain after leaving work at about 2:51 a.m. April 19.

Dillard was also employed at the Upper Deck, where he worked as a bouncer. Around 11:30 p.m. April 18 Dillard visited the tavern, not to work, but--according to his own statement--to deliver drugs to Gland under a previously made arrangement.

Dillard was taken into custody late on April 19, after his girlfriend advised investigators that a knife was missing from her kitchen. Investigators determined that at 6:53 a.m. April 19--before Gland’s body had been discovered--Dillard called his girlfriend from a Gary casino and in the course of the conversation told her, “I really (expletive) up. I don’t think you’ll take me back.”

What Is Not Admissable

After detaining Dillard at the CPD, Cincoski commenced an interview which stretched to approximately 12 hours in length, although--as Webber himself notes in his ruling--“a good part of that time Dillard was in the conference room he was asleep (five to six hours).”

Harper based his motion to suppress on the fact that Dillard, on several occasions during the course of the interview, invoked his right to counsel and requested an attorney, but that Cincoski nevertheless continued the interview

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Polarek, in her response to Harper’s motion, argued that, on those occasions when Dillard did request an attorney, he later agreed to take more questions and quotes the transcript to that effect:

Cincoski: “Do you want--do you want to speak to a lawyer?”

Dillard: “I will take a few more questions.”

And again:

Cincoski: “Do you want a lawyer?”

Dillard: “No, continue.”

Webber, however, citing case law, does in this particular instance find for Harper. Webber begins by noting that, under Moore v. State, an “officer is prohibited from further questioning, ‘in the absence of a new waiver of counsel evidenced by proof that the suspect initiated the resumption of questioning.’” Webber then states in his ruling that because Cincoski did not repeat the Miranda warning after Dillard agreed to speak further, those statements which Dillard subsequently made to Cincoski will not be admissible as evidence at trial.

It’s unclear what value any of those inadmissible statements might have had as evidence.

What Is Admissable

What Webber did rule to be admissible, on the other hand, is Dillard’s explicitly self-incriminating statement made to his girlfriend after the interview was concluded. According to Polarek’s response to Harper’s motion, at 9:04 a.m. April 20, Dillard asked Cincoski whether he might be allowed to speak personally with his girlfriend. “Cincoski subsequently accedes to the defendants request and calls (the girlfriend) and asks her to bring the defendant’s medicine,” Polarek stated. “He further provides the defendant with breakfast and informs him that (the girlfriend) is on her way.”

On the girlfriend’s arrival, Cincoski informed Dillard that he may have five minutes alone with her in the interview room, according to Polarek, but specifically advised him that “this room is also recorded so there is no privacy.” Polarek then quoted from the transcript:

Dillard: “I destroyed my life.”

Girlfriend: “What did you do?”

Dillard: “I killed that girl.”

Girlfriend: “You did?”

Dillard: “You know I did.”

The girlfriend “testified that prior to speaking to the defendant she was neither forced to talk to the defendant nor was she coached with what to say to the defendant,” Polarek further stated. The girlfriend “voluntarily spoke to the defendant of her own free will.”

Webber, in his ruling, finds this self-incriminating statement admissible. “Prior to the conversation between the two, (the girlfriend) was told that everything said in the room was recorded, audio and video. Also prior to (her) entering the conference room, Dillard was reminded by the officer that everything said in the room was recorded. During the (meeting) they kept their voices low, to what can only be surmised, to avoid those outside the room from hearing or understanding what was being said. However, enough was heard and understood regarding Dillard’s killing of Nicole Gland. Dillard was insistent to (the girlfriend) that he wanted to confess to what happened.”

Webber also finds admissible certain unspecified statements made by Dillard to Cincoski after speaking with his girlfriend: “Further, after his audible admissions to the killing to (the girlfriend), Dillard wanted to talk to Chief Cincoski. Those later statements to the police, after again receiving Miranda warnings, enable his statements to police to be admissible. Further, when (the girlfriend) left the interview room, it is clear from the audio that Dillard was insistent and anxious to admit to the killing. However, Officer Cincoski stopped Dillard from blurting out his killing until he could again be advised of his rights.”

Webber concludes: “Inasmuch as Dillard’s confession was based on his insistence to talk with Chief Cincoski, and only after he was again given his Miranda rights was the confession received and recorded. It is therefore admissible at trial and defendant’s motion to suppress is denied.”

Dillard’s trial is currently scheduled to begin on May 21, 2018.


Posted 11/8/2017




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