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Forum staff reports, Published January 26 2011

Kirkpatrick murder trial start delayed until July

The trial for an Oklahoma grandfather accused of conspiring to murder his granddaughter’s father – once set to start Feb. 28 – is now delayed until July.

Gene Carl Kirkpatrick is facing a murder conspiracy charge in Cass County District Court in the death of his former son-in-law, Philip Gattuso.

The man he’s accused of hiring for $3,000 and the promise of $10,000 more – a handyman, Michael Nakvinda – was convicted in a December jury trial of the bloody hammer beating of Gattuso, a Fargo dentist.

Online court records say the trial for Kirkpatrick is set for a three-week period starting July 19, while the previous trial date starting Feb. 28 has been canceled.

Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said he expects the trial delay to be discussed at a hearing today on two motions filed by Kirkpatrick seeking to throw out a statement he gave police and to move the trial out of Fargo.

Burdick said the delay is due to scheduling matters.

A sentencing hearing for Nakvinda, who could get a lifetime prison term with no chance for parole, is set for Friday.