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Dave Roepke, Published December 02 2010

UPDATED: Witness can't identify murder suspect, more details from confession by man accused of masterminding crime

The sole witness who saw the man who was loading Philip Gattuso’s stolen car onto a U-Haul trailer can’t identify the suspect.

Jamie Viker, the eyewitness, told the jury in the Michael Nakvinda murder trial this afternoon she did not catch a good glimpse of the man because he was wearing a baseball hat.

“I never really saw his face,” said Viker, who was unable to select Nakvinda out of a photo lineup.

Based on his tall, slim body and the fact he was wearing a baseball hat, Viker told police on multiple occasions the man she saw was in his late 20s or early 30s. She also said he had sandy blonde hair.

Nakvinda is 42 years old. Asked about his hair color, Viker said, “Nope, he doesn’t look blonde to me.”

Viker was one of several witnesses who prosecutors called to the stand Thursday as they began to trace how the investigation led from Gattuso’s townhome on South University Drive to Oklahoma City. The car, a hammer with Gattuso’s blood and hair on it and various electronic devices stolen from the home were found there in a storage unit Nakvinda had rented.

Nakvinda, of Oklahoma City, is on trial on charges of murder, burglary, theft and robbery, accused of beating the Fargo dentist to death with a hammer.

Gene Kirkpatrick, who employed Nakvinda as a handyman, is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder and is set for his own trial in March. He’s the dentist’s former father-in-law and allegedly gave Nakvinda $3,000 to murder Gattuso so he could obtain custody of his daughter.

“I thought her future was more valuable than (Gattuso’s) life,” Kirkpatrick said of the girl – then a 3-year-old – in an interview with police on Oct. 31, 2009.

Jurors finished hearing the roughly 2½-hour interview earlier in the day. A portion had been played for jurors Wednesday.

Falsely told his handyman had implicated him, Kirkpatrick admitted to giving $3,000 to Nakvinda and making a video of the Gattuso home for him. He insisted he never told him to actually go through with their murder-for-hire plot, but he agreed his actions had set the ball rolling.

“Everything was his suggestion in terms of details, but I was right there with him,” he said.

Nakvinda is arguing that Kirkpatrick framed him and that he’s never been to Fargo. Both are expected to testify next week.

By the end of the interview five days after Gattuso’s death, Kirkpatrick was so despondent police were worried he’d kill himself.

“It scares me,” he said.

“What scares you?” Det. Paul Lies asked him.

“The consequences,” he said.

Read The Forum on Friday for the full story.