WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 06, 2010, 08:22 AM

Gattuso Murder Trial: Accused mastermind takes the stand

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The man accused of being the mastermind of the murder of Phillip Gattuso is on the stand in the trial of Michael Nakvinda. Gene Kirkpatrick is the former father-in-law of Gattuso. The defense tried to get him to admit to framing Nakvinda for the murder.

The defense tried to make the dispute between Gattuso and Kirkpatrick clear. Getting Kirkpatrick to talk about why and how much he disliked his son-in-law. Kirkpatrick was asked about conversations he had with military friends about killing Gattuso. Kirkpatrick denied any such conversation. In opening arguments, the defense accused Kirkpatrick of framing Nakvinda with the murder.

"The reason Mike didn't do this is because you know who did."

"That's absolutely false; I never came to a point in my life that I thought I'm going to have Philip killed or anything like that. There's a big difference between thinking something and crossing that line."

Philip Gattuso's brother Roy says after Philip's wife died, Philip feared for his life. Before Philip's death, he asked Roy, who is an attorney, to write up a will. In it Philip wanted custody of Kennedy to go to Roy if Philip died from suspicious reasons.

"And I said what are you talking about and he says you forgot I told you, Gene threatened to kill me and you do not know the contacts that he has."

To close out the day, Jurors heard from the Kirkpatrick's friend Deborah Baker. Like the Kirkpatrick's, Michael Nakvinda numerous construction and handy work jobs for Baker. She says weeks before Philip Gattuso was murdered, Nakvinda told her he could fix the Kirkpatrick's problems with Gattuso by killing him with a hammer.

Deborah Baker: "I told gene that I could take care of this because he would never have the guts to do it and nobody would ever know he would never know nobody would know."

Kirkpatrick did not receive a deal in his case for testifying.