The operator of an oil trucking firm was convicted of being the mastermind behind a murder-for-hire scheme that left two of his business associates dead following a month-long trial in federal court in Washington state.
A federal jury on Thursday found James Henrikson guilty on 10 counts of murder-for-hire and conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder-for-hire, as well as one count of conspiracy to distribute heroin. Three of the men whom prosecutors named as co-conspirators had arranged and carried out the contract killings and pleaded guilty to related charges. They also testified during Henrikson’s trial.
Henrikson was found guilty of hiring a man to kill Kristopher “KC” Clarke in February 2012 in North Dakota, and also Douglas Carlile in December 2013 in Spokane, Wash. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 24 in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Washington.
Henrikson and the other men all worked together in various ventures in North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch.
He and several of his indicted co-conspirators initially pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire and solicitation to commit murder-for-hire last September. Henrikson however, changed his plea and went to trial because he was not made aware of the mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment prior to entering his guilty plea.
According to a report in the Billings Gazette, Henrikson wanted to kill Carlile, an investor who refused to give up his stake in an oil lease and who allegedly owed Henrikson money. Carlile was shot multiple times at close range in his Spokane home. Clarke was killed because he planned to start a competing trucking company. According to court records, Clarke was beaten to death at his shop, but his body was never recovered.
One of the co-conspirators, Timothy Suckow, a man Henrikson hired to carry out the murders and paid $20,000, pleaded guilty in Septmeber 2015 to killing the two men. Another co-defendant, Robert Delao, pleaded guilty to helping to arrange Carlile's murder by acting as a middleman between Henrikson and Suckow.
A third defendant, Lazaro Pesina, who was at Carlile's house when he was killed, pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering, according to court records.
Suckow faces up to 30 years in prison, Delao could be sentenced to 14-17 years, and Pesina could face 12 years.
A jury trial is set for May 10 in Bismarck, N.D., for Sarah Creveling, Henrikson’s ex-wife and business partner, on federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
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