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Published July 21, 2011, 06:57 PM

Kirkpatrick trial gets underway

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - It's a crime drama two years in the making, now the trial of Gene Kirkpatrick, the man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his son in law in Fargo is underway.

It's a crime drama two years in the making, now the trial of Gene Kirkpatrick, the man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his son in law in Fargo is underway. Today, opening statements by the prosecution and defense are giving us a glimpse of how state plans to convict Kirkpatrick and how the defense aims to clear his name..

More than a dozen witnesses will be called to the stand in Gene Kirkpatrick's trial, including Gene Kirkpatrick himself. Today's opening statements set the tone for what we will hear in the coming weeks.

Michael Nakvinda is behind bars, convicted of killing Fargo dentist Phillip Gattuso. Nakvinda told authorities Gene Kirkpatrick, Gattuso's father in law, hired him to do the job.

In opening statements, Mack Martin, Kirkpatrick's attorney says Michael Nakvinda killed Gattuso for his own personal gain to profit from stealing Gattuso's Porshe and Gene never flat out said kill Gattuso. Prosecutors told the jury its case is built around a 2009 interview Kirkpatrick had with investigators. In the interview Kirkpatrick told police he and Nakvinda talked about what it would take to kill Gattuso but never gave him the "green light". He also admitted to paying Nakvinda $3,000 which police say was money to kill Gattuso....

Mack Martin – Defense Attorney: “There's never one time that Gene makes an admission in there, that we had an agreement, I said to go kill him. Never once.”

Mark Boening – Prosecutor: “The core of our case ladies and gentleman consists of the interview with Gene Kirkpatrick.”

At least a dozen witnesses will testify for and against Gene Kirkpatrick. The trial is expected to last 3 weeks.

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