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Gene Kirkpatrick wants new trial or acquittal in case

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - An Oklahoma man serving a life sentence without parole for his role in killing a Fargo dentist is appealing for sentence relief.

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A jury convicted Gene Kirkpatrick in 2011 of conspiring to kill his son-in-law, Philip Gattuso.

The hit man, who carried out the murder in 2009, is also serving a life sentence.

But now Kirkpatrick says his counsel was ineffective, and he wants a new trial or acquittal.

Gene Kirkpatrick claims the defense at his trial was ineffective because he did not testify on his own behalf.

Today, Kirkpatrick did take the stand, and said his attorney during the trial; Mac Martin of Oklahoma City, prepared him to testify but then urged him not to testify on his own behalf days before the trial concluded.

Kirkpatrick's public defender today said it was the simplest and best defense and it was not used.

Cass County State Attorney Birch Burdick argued the defense was not deficient as several written and video accounts were provided of Kirkpatrick's account of events during his trial.

He also called Martin to testify via teleconference from Oklahoma City and used the testimony to illustrate the attorney was concerned about Kirkpatrick's propensity to elaborate while answering questions and said he thought it could be problematic to his defense.

It was a point Kirkpatrick agreed to several times today, noting, he believed his words could and had been used against him.

Gene Kirkpatrick \Convicted of Conspiracy to Murder: "It was like dealing with an Islamic terrorist on CNN. You start thinking, "Well, maybe they've got a point, you know?"

Following arguments, District Judge Steven Marquart said he will issue a written opinion on the appeal.

It is a process that usually takes around 30 days. 

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Drew Trafton
I joined the WDAY 6 news team in September of 2013 as a weekend anchor and reporter. Previous to arriving in the F-M area, I worked as a broadcast journalist at the CBS affiliate (KTVQ) in Billings, Montana (sidenote: my hometown). I have worn many hats in my young broadcast career as an anchor, reporter, producer, sports producer and online producer. However, my favorite role to play is storyteller (collective: "ahh"). When not bringing you the news, I enjoy taking in or participating in sports. On the professional level, I root for Seattle teams. As a graduate of the University of Montana, I also enjoys FCS football (but forgive my allegiance). I also enjoy reading, watching movies, listening to good music and frolicking in the outdoors. I enjoy those things all the more when I can do them with my wife, Annie (a Minnesota native). If you have a story idea for me, or just want to say hello, you can send me an email!
(701) 241-5327
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