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Friday court appearance scheduled for man accused in dentist's murder

Gene Kirkpatrick

The man accused of hiring another to kill Fargo dentist Philip Gattuso will make his initial appearance Friday on charges related to the murder.

Gene Carl Kirkpatrick, 63, of Jones, Okla., is scheduled to appear via interactive TV at 9 a.m. Friday, according to a news release issued by Cass County State's Attorney Birch Burdick.

Cass County sheriff's officials picked Kirkpatrick up from the Oklahoma County Jail early Wednesday morning and transported him to Fargo, where he arrived about 7:40 p.m.

Prosecutors have filed conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit burglary against Kirkpatrick.

If convicted, the murder charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole. The burglary charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Initially, Kirkpatrick planned to fight extradition in the case, but changed his mind during a hearing last Friday in Oklahoma.

Fargo attorney Steven Light has been hired to represent Kirkpatrick.

Police believe Kirkpatrick paid $3,000 to his former handyman, Michael Allen Nakvinda, to kill Gattuso in hopes of gaining custody of the dentist's daughter. Kirkpatrick's daughter Valerie was married to Gattuso but died earlier this year.

Nakvinda is accused of beating Gattuso to death with a hammer - hitting him nine to 11 times - on Oct. 26.

Nakvinda faces four charges, including murder, in Cass County. He is currently in the Cass County Jail.

Philip Gattuso's brother, Roy, has been granted temporary custody of 3-year-old Kennedy Gattuso.