WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 29, 2010, 09:28 AM

Oklahoma man accused of murdering a Fargo dentist is about to go on trial

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - More than a year after a Fargo dentist was brutally murdered, the man accused of the crime is about to go on trial. 42-year old Michael Nakvinda is charged with beating Phillip Gatusso in exchange for 3-thousand dollars from Gattuso's former father in law. Today in court, final details worked out just hours before the murder trial begins.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

The Gattuso death is the only murder for the city of Fargo in the past year, but what a dramatic investigation: An alleged hit-man, a heart breaking custody dispute, and a little girl now orphaned.

When Michael Nakvinda walks into court this week, he and a jury will hear prosecutors tell a tragic story of a family torn apart by loss, deceit, revenge and murder. The story of how Gene Kirkpatrick allegedly hired Nakvinda to "take care" of his ex-son-in-law Phillip Gattuso of Fargo. All because Kirkpatrick allegedly did not like how Gattuso was raising 4-year old Kennedy, Kirkpatrick's grand-daughter.

Gattuso's late wife was the daughter of Kirkpatrick. According to authorities, the alleged hit man Nakvinda was paid three thousand dollars to come to Fargo from Oklahoma City to beat and kill Gattuso.

In court this afternoon, preparation for 57 Cass County residents coming to this courtroom tomorrow as the two sides select a jury. Both sides also told judge Frank Racek witnesses will be flying in from Oklahoma City for the trial next week. They are those familiar with the defendant and the man who allegedly hired him.

Those witnesses who will be called during the trial will be sequestered. And this afternoon, the judge heard from both defense and Cass County prosecutors that the entire trial could take two weeks.