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Associated Press, Published September 04 2012

ND high court reviews Fargo murder-for-hire case

BISMARCK — A lawyer for a man convicted in a Fargo murder-for-hire plot says jurors should have considered a lesser charge in the case.

The North Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in the appeal of Gene Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick was convicted last July of hiring handyman Michael Nakvinda to kill Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso.

Gattuso was Kirkpatrick's son-in-law. Prosecutors say Kirkpatrick didn't want Gattuso raising his granddaughter.

Kirkpatrick's lawyer, Daniel Gast, told the Supreme Court Kirkpatrick was under emotional stress when he talked to Nakvinda about having Gattuso killed.

Gast says Kirkpatrick may have been convicted of a lesser murder charge if jurors considered the stress. The lesser charge has a 20-year maximum prison term. Kirkpatrick was sentenced to life.

Kirkpatrick claimed he never hired Nakvinda to kill Gattuso.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.