WDAY: The News Leader

Published November 30, 2010, 08:07 AM

Gattuso Murder Trial: Jury seated, father-in-law will testify for the prosecution

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It has been just over a year since Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso was murdered in his south Fargo home after multiple blows to his head with a hammer. The nine women, three man jury is seated and the man accused in the murder-for-hire scheme now stands trial.

There were some shocking revelations made during the opening statements including the fact that the man accused of hiring Nakvinda, Gene Kirkpatrick, Gattuso’s father-in-law, will testify for the prosecution and against his former handyman.

Mottinger: “What did Mike Nakvinda get in return for this friendship and trust? In the end he got betrayed and framed for a murder he didn't commit.”

The defense claims Nakvinda was just doing a favor for a friend by picking up a car in Fargo that Kirkpatrick said he bought on Ebay. Police were lead to Gattuso's Porche by a storage owner in Oklahoma who recognized Nakvinda on the news.

Boening: “And guess what they found? They went to the storage shed the defendant had rented and found a Porsche. They found Dr. Gattuso’s Porsche in Michael Nakvinda's storage shed.”

And inside that Porsche: A hammer with Gattuso's blood and hair on it along with a number of items from his ransacked home. But prosecutors say Kirkpatrick will testify that he never told Nakvinda to kill Gattuso.

Boening: “He will maintain that he never told the defendant to go do anything. Despite the fact he admits he gave him 3,000 dollars.”

The defense also claims the Kirkpatrick family hired a private investigator to spy on Gattuso even before his wife died.

Mottinger: “What ladies and gentlemen is this family not capable of.”

Prosecutors will also call a witness who claims Nakvinda said weeks before the murder, that he would use a hammer if he were to kill Gattuso. But, his DNA and fingerprints were not found at the crime scene.

Mottinger: “We, Mike Nakvinda and I, will make them prove each and everything. Judge Racek will tell you they have to prove at the end of this that they will not be able to do it.”

Prosecutors say no deal was cut to get Kirkpatrick's testimony. The trial is expected to last two weeks.