Oil truck operator convicted in North Dakota murder-for-hire case

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 25, 2016 4:45 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - An oil truck operator was convicted on Thursday of orchestrating the killings of two business rivals competing for work in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch, prosecutors said.

A jury in federal court in Richland, in southeastern Washington state, convicted James Henrikson of murder-for-hire and conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder-for-hire in plots against several people he viewed as an impediment to his enterprises, prosecutors said.

Henrikson faces the possibility of life in prison when he is sentenced on May 24 in Spokane, they said.

Attorneys for Henrikson did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington confirmed the guilty verdict but declined to comment.

The trial began on Jan. 25. The jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all eleven charges, including one count of conspiring to distribute heroin, after a little more than a day of deliberations beginning on Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Three men who prosecutors say arranged and carried out the contract killings pleaded guilty to a host of federal charges in September and testified at Henrikson's trial. They have not been sentenced yet.

Henrikson admitted in a September plea agreement 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.

The trial was scheduled after a U.S. judge in eastern Washington granted Henrikson's request to withdraw his guilty plea in November because he was not made aware of the mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment prior to entering his guilty plea, court documents showed.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Alistair Bell and Andrew Hay)