WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published December 02, 2010, 04:26 PM

Testimony Continues in Nakvinda Murder Trial

An Oklahoma man accused of hiring his handyman to murder his son-in-law in North Dakota told investigators he paid $3,000 before the killing, but never ordered it, according to a recording played Thursday for jurors in the handyman's murder trial.

By: Dave Kolpack, Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An Oklahoma man accused of hiring his handyman to murder his son-in-law in North Dakota told investigators he paid $3,000 before the killing, but never ordered it, according to a recording played Thursday for jurors in the handyman's murder trial.

Michael Nakvinda is accused of beating Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso to death with a hammer in October 2009. Authorities allege Gattuso's father-in-law, Gene Kirkpatrick, didn't want Gattuso raising his granddaughter and arranged the murder.

Nakvinda has pleaded not guilty to four state charges and said he wasn't in Fargo during the murder. Kirkpatrick is scheduled to go to trial on a murder conspiracy charge in March.

On Thursday, prosecutors played the end of a 2-hour, 20-minute police interrogation of Kirkpatrick from after Nakvinda was arrested. Jurors heard Kirkpatrick say he paid Nakvinda $3,000 for expenses.

"After I gave him the money, I said, 'Mike, I want you to wait for me to tell you when,'" Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick maintained through the interview he never gave the green light, at one point telling police, "I'm a big talker, not a big doer."

But he also said several times that Gattuso's death was his fault.

"This is bad and I caused (Nakvinda) to do it," Kirkpatrick said.

Gattuso had been married to Kirkpatrick's daughter, Valerie, who died in March 2009 after an extended illness. Kirkpatrick didn't think his son-in-law was capable of nurturing children and said Gattuo's two sons from a previous marriage were "disasters," in part because one was gay.

Kirkpatrick said he believed the future of Kennedy, his 3-year-old granddaughter, was more valuable than Gattuso's life. However, he said he thought Gattuso loved Kennedy.

"I got so attached. I thought this is the only way to do it," Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick talked continuously through the police interview, in some cases interrupting investigators, and rambled on several occasions. He said he didn't like homosexuals. He said Gattuso was "sexually on the fringe" and made Valerie dress up like a prostitute. By the end of the interview police said they were worried Kirkpatrick might try to hurt himself.

Kirkpatrick was told early in the questioning that Nakvinda had implicated him in the murder, when in fact Nakvinda refused to talk to police. Kirkpatrick was later asked if he felt investigators entrapped him.

"No. You all totally done your job. You've been very good at what you did," Kirkpatrick said.

Steven Mottinger, Nakvinda's lawyer, said during opening statements that his client was framed by the Kirkpatrick family. During Thursday's testimony, Mottinger highlighted two comments investigators attributed to Nakvinda when he was arrested, one wondering what Fargo wanted with him and the other stating he had never been to Fargo and didn't know what officers were talking about.

William Massello, North Dakota's medical examiner, testified Thursday that Gattuso was struck on the head at least 10 times, most likely with a household or ballpeen hammer. Gattuso had bruises on his wrists that indicated he was trying to protect his head, Massello said.

Tags: