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

North Dakota Oil Fields Contract Killing Case Sentences
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.

North Dakota oil industry:

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)