Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Judge Clymer denies change of venue in Upper Deck murder case

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By LILY REX

Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied a request for a change of venue for the trial of Christopher Dillard, who stands accused of the 2017 murder of Upper Deck Lounge bartender Nicole Gland.

Both Dillard and Gland worked at the Upper Deck Lounge, formerly at 139 1/2 S. Calumet Road. Gland’s body was found in her vehicle behind the bar April 19, 2017. The cause of death was multiple stab wounds to the head, neck, and torso. Dillard has pleaded not guilty.

Dillard’s Defense Attorney Bob Harper argued Friday that the jury pool in Porter County has been tainted by prejudicial, inflammatory media coverage related to Dillard’s taped confession, which an Indiana Appeals Court threw out on the grounds that the confession was made after Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski denied Dillard access to legal counsel three times in an 11-hour interrogation.

Harper argued that trying Dillard in Porter County would violate his constitutional rights to be protected against implicating himself in the commission of a crime and to have an impartial jury, on those grounds.

Harper called two witnesses: Nina Subartowicz, Chesterton resident who launched a Change.org petition calling for Cincoski’s removal in response to the thrown-out confession, and Northwest Indiana Times Reporter Bob Kasarda, who has consistently covered the case for the Times.

On the stand, Subartowicz said her petition garnered approximately 1,500 signatures.

Harper asked Kasarda about the amount of feedback his stories about the case received on social media, noting that one story had over 150 comments and 200 shares. When asked what that meant, Kasarda said he’s not a Facebook expert, but some people may have commented multiples times. Kasarda also said he tends not to monitor social media activity on his stories.

The Prosecution conceded media coverage of the case mentioning the taped confession is inflammatory since it mentions information that can’t be used at trial. They contended, however, that the number of social media comments and petition signatures Harper presented pales in comparison to Porter County’s population of more than 168,000.

Clymer found with the Prosecution, denying the request on the condition that he would reconsider changing venue, “If it becomes apparent during jury selection that we cannot obtain an impartial jury in this County.”

Clymer said the County will cast a wider net in hopes of finding jurors who have not been exposed to the details of the case, and those reporting to jury duty will respond to a questionnaire determining their knowledge of the case during selection.

Clymer said the trial will be fair for everyone involved. “We should end up with jurors who have no knowledge of the case.”

Clymer scheduled a final pre-trial hearing for Aug. 23. Jury selection will begin Sept. 30.

 

Posted 4/15/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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