The murder trial of a man who has been charged in the death of a Chesterton bartender will be delayed for three weeks so that DNA testing can be conducted on a strand of hair that was found at the crime scene.
On April 19, 2017, 23-year-old bartender Nicole Gland was found stabbed to death in her vehicle in a parking lot behind her place of work.
Christopher Dillard, 53, of Hobart was arrested in connection with Gland’s death. Dillard was a bouncer at the Upper Deck Lounge in Chesterton where Gland worked as a bartender.
Dillard was picked up by the police on the same day that Gland’s body was found. According to his charging information, Dillard allegedly told his girlfriend, “I killed that girl. I didn’t mean to.” The police have said that Dillard had indicated to his girlfriend “that the drugs had a hold of him.”
Authorities said that Dillard also admitted to the crime during an interrogation by the Chesterton police. However, Dillard’s alleged confession was subsequently tossed out by the Indiana appellate court because the Chesterton police ignored Dillard’s repeated requests to speak to an attorney.
Dillard pleaded not guilty and has been held in Porter County Jail while he awaits his trial.
The DNA Evidence
Investigators recovered one strand of hair from Gland’s vehicle that prosecutors want to have DNA-tested. The hair was found on the rear passenger door window trim of the vehicle in which Gland was found stabbed to death.
An analyst with the Indiana State Police laboratory has determined that the strand of hair “has sufficient root material for DNA testing”; however “the potential genetic material from the hair strand will be completely consumed” by the test.
The district attorney’s office wants to conduct DNA testing on the hair, which will destroy it. Because the testing will destroy the evidence, Dillard’s defense team wants its own expert to be present for the testing. Obtaining the results of the test will take about six weeks.
New Trial Date
Dillard’s defense team requested that the trial date be pushed back because of the amount of time that the DNA test will take. Chief Deputy Prosecutor Armando Salinas objected to the requested delay.
Dillard’s public defender, Russell Brown, said that the delay was also necessary because he just received additional evidence in the case this week. Brown received this case last month after Dillard’s former public defenders, Bob Harper and then Bryan Truitt, had to step aside.
Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer told Brown, “The reason, in part, the evidence hasn’t been tested is because of your expert. … Your expert and the state have to communicate. There has to be a trial.” However, Judge Clymer granted the request for a new trial date.
Dillard’s new trial date is set to begin on October 21, 2019. It was previously set to begin on September 30. The trial is anticipated to take three weeks.
Dillard just recently made a motion to be released from jail while he was awaiting trial because he has exceeded the six-month limit that he could remain jailed without going to trial. However, his public defender, Russell Brown, acknowledged, that his client “admits this delay is chargeable to him.”