North Dakota oil truck operator gets life term for 2 contract killings

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North Dakota Oil Fields Contract Killing Case Sentences

SPOKANE, Wash., May 24 (Reuters) - A former trucking company operator from North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was sentenced on Tuesday to life in federal prison for orchestrating the contract killings of two business rivals but told the judge he deserved to be executed.

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James Terry Henrikson, 36, found guilty in February on 11 felony charges, including murder-for-hire, 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.

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North Dakota oil truck operator gets life term for 2 contract killings
A natural gas flare on an oil well pad burns as the sun sets outside Watford City, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Persistent low oil prices have lead to slower business in much of North Dakota's Bakken oil fields. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Pumpjacks and other infrastructure for producing oil dot fields outside of Watford City, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Over the last year, continually decreasing oil prices have forced a decrease in drilling and fracking new wells in North Dakota's Bakken shale play. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Sunflowers stalks punctuate the snow in a field near dormant oil drilling rigs which have been stacked in Dickinson, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Over the last year, continually decreasing oil prices have forced a decrease in drilling and fracking new wells in North Dakota's Bakken shale play. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Dead sunflowers stand in a field near dormant oil drilling rigs which have been stacked in Dickinson, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Over the last year, continually decreasing oil prices have forced a decrease in drilling and fracking new wells in North Dakota's Bakken shale play. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A sign advertises homes for sale in a new housing development in Dickinson, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Low oil prices have forced rents down across North Dakota's Bakken oil field as many workers have lost their jobs or left the industry. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A trailer park that was developed during the Bakken oil boom is seen in Williston, North Dakota April 30, 2016. To match Special Report USA-NORTHDAKOTA/BUST REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A drive-through bakery and coffee shack waits for customers in Killdeer, North Dakota January 21, 2016. Over the last year, continually decreasing oil prices have forced a decrease in drilling and fracking new wells in North Dakota's Bakken shale play. The collapse of U.S. oil and gas investment could have further to fall and Americans are showing signs they spend less of their windfall from lower gasoline prices than in the past, darkening the outlook for the U.S. economy. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Terra Green sits outside a staffing agency in Williston, North Dakota, January 13, 2015. Green arrived in Williston earlier that day in search of work in the Bakken oil field. Like so many before them, Terra Green, Jeff Williamson and Bazileo Hernandez came to North Dakota's oil country seeking a better life. They just came too late. Itinerant, unskilled workers could as recently as last spring show up in the No. 2 U.S. oil producing state and vie for salaries north of $100,000 per year with guaranteed housing. The steep drop in oil prices has changed that. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work, the friends decided to leave Williston. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES SOCIETY EMPLOYMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) PICTURE 7 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'IN PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM' SEARCH 'CULLEN DREAM' FOR ALL IMAGES
Terra Green waits to get registered with a Command Center staffing agency in hopes of finding work in Williston, North Dakota, January 13, 2015. She and her friends had arrived in Williston earlier that day to search for work in the Bakken oil field. Like so many before them, Terra Green, Jeff Williamson and Bazileo Hernandez came to North Dakota's oil country seeking a better life. They just came too late. Itinerant, unskilled workers could as recently as last spring show up in the No. 2 U.S. oil producing state and vie for salaries north of $100,000 per year with guaranteed housing. The steep drop in oil prices has changed that. After trying unsuccessfully for over a month to find work, the friends decided to leave Williston. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES EMPLOYMENT SOCIETY) PICTURE 6 OF 28 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY 'IN PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN DREAM' SEARCH 'CULLEN DREAM' FOR ALL IMAGES
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Addressing the court before his sentence was pronounced, Henrikson expressed no remorse and offered no apologies but spoke in a rambling political diatribe of his opposition to abortion and liberalized marijuana laws.

He also said his case demonstrated how America needs to be tougher on crime.

"I believe this case should have been a death penalty case from the beginning," he said.

Henrikson's conviction stems from the slayings of two associates - Douglas Carlile, fatally shot in 2013, and Kristopher Clarke, bludgeoned to death in 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 came 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.

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.

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Five other men have been convicted in the case.

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. (Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernard Orr and Cynthia Osterman)

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