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Published October 10, 2011, 06:25 PM

Families weigh in on Kirkpatrick sentencing

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - There were very different pictures painted today of Gene Kirkpatrick. His family spoke of a caring man, but the brother of Phillip Gattuso talked of a little girl who will never get to know her father because of what her grandfather did.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Gene Kirkpatrick is headed to prison for the rest of his life. The man convicted of conspiring to kill his son-in-law, Fargo dentist Phillip Gattuso, will not be eligible for parole. That sentence handed down in Court today in the 2009 "murder for hire scheme."

Kirkpatrick's wife took the stand and tearfully told the Judge her husband was a wonderful man who did not conspire to kill Phillip Gattuso. Despite letters of support, Judge Steven Marquart was not swayed or convinced of testimony in favor of Kirkpatrick.

Judge Steven Marquart – Cass County District Judge: “Your friends and family do not know the dark side, the dark side the jury saw the dark side that conspired with Nakvinda to bludgeon Dr. Gattuso to his death.”

There were very different pictures painted today of Gene Kirkpatrick. His family spoke of a caring man, but the brother of Phillip Gattuso talked of a little girl who will never get to know her father because of what her grandfather did.

Standing before a packed courtroom, the man who conspired to kill his own son in law, pleaded for leniency.

Gene Kirkpatrick – Sentenced to Life with No Parole: “I am sorry for Mrs. Gattuso's loss, and the pain and suffering the family has been through, thank you.”

Moments earlier, Phillip Gattuso's brother Roy, whose family now has custody of Phillip’s young daughter Kennedy, says the murder of his brother is heartbreaking with long lasting effects.

Roy Gattuso – Phillip’s Brother: “She will be devastated once she learns that one of the two men that harmed her father was her grandfather.”

But Kirkpatrick's wife, who in tears argued her husband was still innocent, continued to accuse the Gattusos of lying throughout the case; A miscarriage of justice. and Sharon Kirkpatrick said her son in law Phillip, now dead, was a bizarre person.

Sharon Kirkpatrick – Kirkpatrick’s Wife: “Phillip was not a sterling angel, if there ever was a prince of darkness, that man was.”

Kirkpatrick pleaded for a sentence that included probation or parole. His attorney accused Cass County Prosecutors of backing down from an agreement that for his testimony against Michael Nakvinda, the man convicted in the hammer beating, Kirkpatrick would get special treatment at sentencing.

Mack Martin – Kirkpatrick’s Attorny: “And now they want to abandon him and ask for the harshest penalty under the law.”

Birch Burdick – Cass County States Attorney: “He was a critical piece of that but for his involvement but Phillip Gattuso would be alive and raising his daughter today.”

After sentencing, the Gattusos told us the judge in sentencing Kirkpatrick to life with no parole saw the truth; Truth in a tragedy that has left a 5 year old girl without her mother, father and now a Grandfather headed behind bars forever.

Michael Nakvinda is serving a life sentence with no parole, after a jury convicted him of murder last December. He is appealing.

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