Christopher Dillard, Nicole Gland

Christopher Dillard is accused of killing Nicole Gland on April 19, 2017.

VALPARAISO — The murder trial of Christopher Dillard will remain in Porter County.

The ruling in a change of venue hearing Friday came with a half a hand clap from a member of Nicole Gland's family before Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffery Clymer warned the courtroom to withhold its reactions.

Clymer also said extra precaution will take place during jury selection, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 30, and, if there is additional evidence that a fair, unbiased jury cannot be selected, he will consider another motion.

Bob Harper, attorney for Dillard, sought to have the trial moved from Porter County or to have a jury from another county brought in. He cited pretrial publicity, especially in coverage of Dillard's confession being suppressed as evidence.

Harper contended Dillard's rights would be compromised and an unbiased jury could not be found in Porter County.

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Dillard, 52, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Nicole Gland, 23, of Portage, on April 19, 2017, by stabbing her in her vehicle in a parking area behind the former Upper Deck Lounge, 139 S. Calumet Road, in Chesterton.

Harper questioned Nina Sabartowicz, a Chesterton resident, who posted a petition online calling for the firing of the Chesterton police chief due to the suppression of Dillard's confession. He also called Times reporter Bob Kasarda and questioned him about news articles on the murder and their frequency on social media.

Clymer said while the publicity might be inflammatory, Harper didn't prove it was enough exposure to bias a jury.

Clymer said a questionnaire will be given to jurors after they report to jury duty to gauge their exposure and bias and he will call for an extra large jury pool.

"We should end up with jurors with no knowledge of the case," Clymer said.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.