Weather Forecast


Kirkpatrick asks judge to throw out his conviction in murder conspiracy trial

Gene Kirkpatrick speaks in a Cass County courtroom Thursday. (David Samson / The Forum)

Fargo, ND - An Oklahoma grandfather convicted of hiring a hitman to kill his son-in-law in 2009 for custody of his granddaughter is asking a Fargo judge to throw out his conviction. 


Gene Kirkpatrick argued in Cass County court Thursday that his attorney at the murder conspiracy trial failed to provide him effective counsel. 

Kirkpatrick said that his attorney at the time, Mack Martin, told him not to testify because at the time, he thought he was winning the case, and because being cross-examined would come with potential "pitfalls."

A jury convicted Kirkpatrick of conspiring with his handyman Michael Nakvinda to have his son-in-law, Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso, murdered. Prosecutors say Kirkpatrick wanted Gattuso dead because he wanted custody of Gattuso's then 3-year-old daughter with Kirkpatrick's late daughter Valerie.

Nakvinda was convicted of beating Gattuso to death in 2010.

Judge Steven Marquart said he would take the case under advisement. 

Check back for more on this developing story.