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North Dakota oil truck operator sentenced to life for two contract killings

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A former trucking company operator from North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was sentenced on Tuesday to life in federal prison for his conviction on charges of orchestrating the contract killings of two business rivals.

2036812+0926 Henrikson Mug.jpg
James Terry Henrikson

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A former trucking company operator from North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was sentenced on Tuesday to life in federal prison for his conviction on charges of orchestrating the contract killings of two business rivals. 

James Terry Henrikson, found guilty of 11 felony counts in February, including murder-for-hire charges, was sentenced to two consecutive life terms by a U.S. district judge in Spokane, Washington, where one of the victims was shot to death in 2013.

  The conviction stems from the slayings of two associates of Henrikson - Douglas Carlile, who was shot in Spokane in December 2013, and Kristopher Clarke, who was bludgeoned to death in February 2012. Clarke's body has never been found.

Prosecutors cast Henrikson in court documents and at his trial as a vindictive, ruthless businessman determined to eliminate anyone he viewed as an impediment to his various enterprises in western North Dakota's petroleum fields.

The case has come to symbolize the darker side of an energy boom that saw a rapid expansion of drilling rigs, trucking and work camps all tied to a resurgence in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the region's vast Bakken oil shale reserves.

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Carlile was described by prosecutors as an investor who owed Henrikson money and refused to give up his stake in an oil lease that was of interest to Henrikson.

Clarke was an employee of Henrikson's North Dakota-based trucking company whom Henrikson regarded as disloyal. He believed Clarke was planning either to join a competing trucking firm or start one of his own, prosecutors said.

Five other men have been convicted in the murder-for-hire schemes.

Timothy Suckow, who was paid $20,000 by Henrikson and pleaded guilty to carrying out both killings, was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison. Two other co-defendants, Lazaro Pesina and Robby Joe Wahrer, received prison terms of 12 years and 10 years, respectively.

Another, Robert Andrew Delao, who pleaded guilty to helping arrange Carlile's killing by acting as a middleman between Henrikson and Suckow, faces sentencing in August. The final co-defendant, Todd David Bates, is slated for sentencing in June.

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