WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 27, 2011, 11:48 AM

Defense rests without calling Gene Kirkpatrick to the witness stand

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tomorrow morning, the jury will begin deliberating the guilt or innocence of a man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his own son-in-law. Today, the defense rested without ever calling Gene Kirkpatrick to the witness stand.

The Gattuso's and Kirkpatrick's sat one row apart as the trial began and our first glimpse of any emotion from Gene Kirkpatrick, as his attorney stood up to defend his name.

Dr. David Tiller was first witness for the defense. He testified after hours of analyzing Kirkpatrick he found he suffers from "complex grief" and chronic depression symptoms since the death of his daughter Valerie who was married to Phillip, and loss of custody of his granddaughter Kennedy.

Tiller explained this as a reason Kirkpatrick may have talked to many people about his grief, including convicted killer Michael Nakvinda a former handy man for Kirkpatrick.

David Tiller - Kirkpatrick's Psychologist: "We all give the right situation. Can say, I'm gonna kill that son of a gun, some guy cuts us off in traffic, and we almost get in a wreck and it scares us, some guy's being a bone head. Yea we say I'm going to kill him.”

Jeff Williams, Kirkpatrick's son in law, told the jury Kirkpatrick never said anything badly about Phillip directly to him. But says he overheard Kirkpatrick talking with Nakvinda about his frustrations with Gattuso.

Jeff Williams - Kirkpatrick's Son In Law: "He was real sympathetic. You know, pretty much he was very close to Valerie too. He pretty much shared the same feelings that Gene did."

After a short recess, the defense rested. And unlike the murder trial of Michael Nakvinda, where Kirkpatrick testified, we will never hear him on the stand defending his name.

Of the 8-witnesses, not one testified Kirkpatrick ever talked badly about Gattuso. Prosecutors had argued Kirkpatrick told more than 100-people about his frustrations.