VALPARAISO — The Indiana Appellate Court has agreed to hear a request to toss out the entire police interview with a Hobart man accused of murdering a Portage woman outside the Chesterton bar where they worked. The decision is important to the defense because during the recorded interview in question with police and his girlfriend, Christopher Dillard reportedly confessed to the crime and made self-incriminating statements. Defense attorney Bob Harper said he will continue arguing that Chesterton Police Chief David Cincoski violated Dillard’s rights by not stopping the 12- to 14-hour interrogation after any of the three or more times Dillard requested an attorney.
Harper also accuses police of violating Dillard’s rights by keeping him in an interrogation room at the police station for so long on April 19 and 20 that he slept on the floor and went without his medication. Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said, “We are confident that the Court of Appeals will affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress, and clarify some of the issues in the previous ruling.” The state appellate court could have refused to hear the interlocutory appeal, Harper said. The defense and prosecution will file their arguments and the criminal case will be placed on hold until a ruling is made in five or six months.
Bulk of interview already tossed out
Senior Judge Thomas Webber, while filling a short-term vacancy in the local Porter Superior Court, threw out the bulk of the interrogation in November based on Cincoski’s failure to stop the interview when Dillard requested an attorney.
The judge said prosecutors can use a later part of the conversation, however, including a confession by Dillard, after Cincoski reminded him of his Miranda rights, according to the ruling. Self-incriminating comments made by Dillard to his girlfriend in the recorded police interview room also can be used, according to Webber.
Dillard, 51, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Nicole Gland, 23, of Portage, on April 19 by stabbing her in her vehicle in a parking area behind the former Upper Deck Lounge, 139 S. Calumet Road, in Chesterton. Dillard, who was picked up by police the same day, told his girlfriend while at the Chesterton Police Department, “I killed that girl. I didn’t mean to,” according to the charging information. “He indicated to her that the drugs had a hold of him,” police have said. The case is pending before Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer.
The interlocutory appeal sought by Harper is used to challenge contentious issues while the overall criminal case is pending. Clymer approved the request to refer the issue to the state appellate court. It then is up to the appellate court to agree to hear the matter, Harper said.