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Dave Roepke, Published December 01 2010

UPDATED: Fargo police used bluff to get Kirkpatrick to open up on Gattuso murder

FARGO – In the first day of witness testimony on Wednesday in a murder trial for Michael Nakvinda, the jury heard portions of the interrogation of the man who allegedly paid him to kill Philip Gattuso.

Gene Kirkpatrick, former father-in-law of Gattuso, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, accused of paying Nakvinda $3,000 to kill the Fargo dentist.

Kirkpatrick is expected to stand trial next spring in his own case and testify next week in Nakvinda’s trial, but jurors heard from him plenty on Wednesday.

Kirkpatrick was interviewed five days after Gattuso was beaten to death with a hammer. Detective Paul Lies from Fargo and a state agent from Oklahoma got Kirkpatrick to open up about conversations he’d had with Nakvinda about killing Gattuso by telling him Nakvinda had implicated him.

Nakvinda, who claims he was set up by Kirkpatrick, hadn’t given any statement to police, Lies said before the recording was played in court on Wednesday.

Jurors heard about two-thirds of the interview, which is roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes long. They will listen to the rest when the trial begins again Thursday morning.

The trial is scheduled to last as long as through the end of next week.

Nakvinda faces charges of murder, robbery, theft and burglary in Cass County District Court.

For the full story, read The Forum on Thursday.