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.
certain statements made to Police Chief Dave Cincoski after Dillard spoke to
his girlfriend, which could be interpreted as self-incriminating.
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.
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
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
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.”
Cincoski: “Do you
want a lawyer?”
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:
destroyed my life.”
did you do?”
Dillard: “I killed
Dillard: “You know
“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.”
“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.