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Gene Kirkpatrick

$1 million bond set in case of father-in-law charged with orchestrating Fargo dentist's murder

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FARGO - A judge today set bail at $1 million cash for the man accused of hiring another man to kill Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso.

Gene Carl Kirkpatrick, 63, of Jones, Okla., appeared before Cass County District Court Judge Steven Marquart via interactive TV shortly after 9 a.m. on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit burglary in the death of Philip Gattuso in October.

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Kirkpatrick arrived in Fargo earlier this week after Cass County authorities picked him up and transported him from a jail in Oklahoma.

Kirkpatrick smiled briefly when Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick told the judge that Kirkpatrick likely had a passport, which he said should be surrendered if Kirkpatrick posts bail.

Burdick also told Marquart that the primary motive for the crime appeared to involve the custody of Kirkpatrick's granddaughter, who is now in the custody of Gattuso's extended family.

Because the custody situation remained similar to what it was before the crime, Burdick said it raises the possibility "history could, in fact, repeat itself."

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