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Published September 01, 2011, 09:04 AM

Appeal heard in ND murder-for-hire case

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The attorney for an Oklahoma man serving life in prison for killing a North Dakota man says there wasn't enough evidence for jurors to convict Michael Nakvinda.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The attorney for an Oklahoma man serving life in prison for killing a North Dakota man says there wasn't enough evidence for jurors to convict Michael Nakvinda.

The Forum reports (http://bit.ly/mXi4SH ) that attorney Mark Blumer made his argument to the North Dakota Supreme Court Wednesday. He said there was no proof that Nakvinda was in Fargo on Oct. 26, 2009, when Philip Gattuso was beaten to death.

Justices will rule on the appeal later.

Nakvinda was the handyman for Gene Kirkpatrick of Jones, Okla., who was convicted in July of hiring Nakvinda to kill his former son-in-law. He faces life in prison when he's sentenced on Oct. 10.

Authorities say Kirkpatrick ordered the hit because he didn't want Gattuso raising his granddaughter after Kirkpatrick's daughter, Valerie, died in March 2009.

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