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Trial starts for oil truck operator in Bakken murder-for-hire case

SEATTLE -- The trial of an oil truck operator charged with orchestrating the killings of two business rivals competing for work in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was set to begin on Monday in Washington state.

2036812+0926 Henrikson Mug.jpg
James Henrikson

SEATTLE -- The trial of an oil truck operator charged with orchestrating the killings of two business rivals competing for work in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was set to begin on Monday in Washington state.

James Henrikson admitted last fall to an interstate murder-for-hire plot to kill Kristopher "KC" Clarke in February 2012 in North Dakota and Douglas Carlile in December 2013 in Spokane, Washington.

But Henrikson withdrew his guilty plea in November after a judge ruled he was not made aware of the mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment his crimes carried prior to entering the plea, court documents showed. He has now pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin on Monday morning in Richland, in southeastern Washington state, Henrikson's lawyer, Todd Maybrown, and a U.S. District Court clerk in Spokane said.

Henrikson faces charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder-for-hire in alleged plots against several people he viewed as an impediment to his enterprises, an indictment said. He also faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin.

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Three men who prosecutors say arranged and carried out the contract killings pleaded guilty to a host of federal charges in September and are expected to testify at Henrikson's trial, which could last four to six weeks, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

Henrikson, who lived in Watford City, N.D., operated the Blackstone trucking company.

Clarke worked as a truck driver for Henrikson in North Dakota and Carlile was an investor and equipment operator who formed companies with Henrikson.

Court records say Clarke, who Henrikson believed was going to start a competing business, was beaten to death at a shop near Mandaree, N.D. Clarke’s body has not been found. His vehicle was found near Williston, N.D., about two months after he disappeared.

Carlile was shot multiple times at close range in his Spokane home. Court records say Carlile owed Henrikson money and Carlile had refused to give up his stake in an oil lease.

Three co-defendants in the case pleaded guilty last fall to their roles in the conspiracy, including Timothy Suckow, who pleaded guilty to killing both Carlile and Clarke.

 

Forum News Service contributed to this report.

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