Nakvinda pleads not guilty in Fargo dentist murderFARGO, N.D. – The man accused of killing Philip Gattuso pleaded not guilty today in Cass County District Court.
By: Dave Roepke, Forum Communications Co.
FARGO, N.D. – The man accused of killing Philip Gattuso pleaded not guilty today in Cass County District Court.
Michael Allen Nakvinda, 41, of Oklahoma City, gave a not guilty plea for all four felonies he’s charged with in connection to the Oct. 26 killing of the Fargo dentist: murder, robbery, burglary and theft.
Police believe Nakvinda was paid $3,000 to murder Gattuso, a contract killing allegedly paid for by Gene Kirkpatrick, the father of Gattuso’s late wife. Nakvinda once worked as Kirkpatrick’s handyman.
Nakvinda showed little outward emotion at the hearing, addressing Judge Frank Racek as “sir” and locking his eyes on State’s Attorney Birch Burdick as the prosecutor read the charges he faces.
The preliminary hearing, which requires the state to establish probable cause, was waived by Nakvinda.
The next step in the case is a dispositional hearing, meant to assess whether the case will go to trial. It is set for Feb. 10, but Burdick said the prosecution might ask for more time to allow for evidence processing.
Initially, the hearing held today was scheduled for Thursday but attorneys for both sides agreed to have it today, immediately after a hearing in which Racek ruled in favor of news organizations who asked for expanded media coverage of the case.
Typically, cameras and recording devices aren’t allowed in court. Racek’s ruling allows for in-court photographs as well as video and audio recordings in the Nakvinda case.
The judge did establish some exceptions, including a ban on photographs and video of Nakvinda outside of the courtroom. Pre-trial hearings on evidence issues are also exempt from expanded coverage.
Dave Roepke is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.