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Dave Roepke, Published October 11 2011

Kirkpatrick now faces wrongful death lawsuit

FARGO – The brother of Philip Gattuso has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Cass County against Gene Kirkpatrick, the man sentenced to life in prison on Monday for conspiring to murder the Fargo dentist.

Roy Gattuso confirmed the filing of the lawsuit on Tuesday, but he declined to answer questions about it, deferring to the Fargo lawyer representing the Gattusos, David Bossart.

Bossart couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Court records show the wrongful death lawsuit, filed Aug. 10, names Roy Gattuso and the orphaned daughter of his brother as plaintiffs. Roy Gattuso has custody of the 5-year-old niece, Kennedy Gattuso.

Philip Gattuso, 49, was beaten to death on Oct. 26, 2009, by Michael Nakvinda, a handyman who worked for Kirkpatrick, the father of Gattuso’s late wife, who died seven months before he was murdered.

A jury convicted Nakvinda last December of the murder, and he was sentenced to a lifetime term in prison without chance for parole. Kirkpatrick got the same sentence on Monday after a jury convicted him of a conspiracy to commit murder charge in July.

Five days after the killing, Kirkpatrick told police he had discussed a murder-for-hire with Nakvinda. He told officers he had paid the handyman $3,000 and even shot a video of Gattuso’s Fargo condominium at the request of Nakvinda.

Kirkpatrick’s aim, he had told police, was to have his own family raise Gattuso’s daughter because they had concerns about his parenting and nurturing skills.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535