WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 23, 2011, 11:12 AM

Kirkpatrick Trial Continues

Fargo, ND (WDAY-TV) The man who set Gene Kirkpatrick free and paid the 1-million dollar bail sat in front of jurors Friday

The man who set Gene Kirkpatrick free and paid the 1-million dollar bail sat in front of jurors Friday. He's a key character witness for the defense team. Kirkpatrick is accused of hiring a hit man to kill his son in law, Phillip Gattuso, a Fargo dentist.

Sharon Kirkpatrick and daughter Regan sat stone faced behind their husband and father as witness after witness took the stand. Rod Thornton is a man who's known Kirkpatrick since 1992. He was the man who posted the large bond of $1 million to release Gene Kirkpatrick.

Rod Thornton – Witness for Kirkpatrick - "Gene was kind of a mentor to me and my first job out of college and he's very good at what he did."

Thornton is Kirkpatrick's key character witness. He tells the jury there is "no way" Gene could have been involved in this...

Thornton - "I didn't believe it. And I don't believe it today. And we wanted to post the bond for Gene and we did."

The prosecution hit back as it called David Lybeck to the stand. Lybeck, a Fargo private investigator, was called by Kirkpatrick to investigate Gattuso.

David Lybeck – Fargo P.I. -"He was looking to hire a private investigator to follow his son in law."

Lybeck told the court Kirkpatrick thought Gattuso, quote "switch Hit" or was Bi-sexual. He didn't want Gattuso to get any settlement money from a potential lawsuit after a botched surgery that ultimately killed Gattuso's wife, Kirkpatricks daughter.

Lybeck - "He didn’t like the idea that Phillip would be getting %50 especially with the marriage in his words moving in the direction of a divorce."

Both defense and prosecution poked holes in each witness statements. Such as Thornton who will only get a portion of his money back if Kirkpatrick's convicted.

And P.I. Lybeck who never found anything while investigating Gattuso.

Three other witnesses also testified. Including State Medical Examiner Paul Leis, the investigator who questioned Kirkpatrick.