RICHLAND – In testimony broken by tears and long pauses Monday morning, Timothy Suckow described the two grisly murders he said were ordered by James Henrikson, including his reluctant shooting of Douglas Carlile.
“He dropped his hand,” Suckow said, recounting the moment he confronted Carlile in his South Hill kitchen on Dec. 15, 2013. He paused. “And, uh, I started shooting.”
Suckow, who resumed testimony Monday in the murder-for-hire trial of Henrikson, said he couldn't remember aiming the .45 caliber pistol he used to shoot Carlile, and turned to flee “before he hit the floor.”
“I remember hearing the shell casings bouncing,” Suckow said, his voice quickening into a sob that matched those of Elberta Carlile, Douglas' widow, who was also in the home that night.
Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed, Suckow described the email exchange with Robert Delao that began in September 2013. The Spokane Valley resident had sought to cut ties with Henrikson and Delao after killing Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke at Henrikson's request in February 2012.
“It was rough. The experience was too rough,” Suckow said, referring to a return trip to North Dakota after he said he bludgeoned Clarke to death while Henrikson watched. “I didn't want to stay there.”
Suckow recalled shaking Clarke's hand moments before he struck him four times in the back of the head with a floor jack handle. He then spent what "seemed like hours” cleaning Clarke's blood from the floor of Henrikson's truck shop near Watford City.
“Blood stains concrete pretty well,” Suckow said. “You've got to clean it up.”
Suckow said Henrikson was nearby during the violent attack and did nothing to stop it, then paid Suckow $20,000 for the murder. Henrikson's attorneys say Suckow and Delao concocted the story to use the 36-year-old as a scapegoat for their own criminal acts.
Clarke was buried in a shallow grave on state park land south of Williston, Suckow said. He recalled cradling the dead body of Clarke in his arms, his head wrapped in a garbage bag to keep blood from spilling out.
“I heard the blood sloshing around in the bag,” Suckow said, wiping tears from his eyes.
Authorities have not recovered Clarke's remains, despite Suckow showing them where he believed the body was buried. Suckow said he returned to a cabin near Watford City after burying Clarke and burning Clarke's clothes.
“I took a shower,” Suckow said, his voice breaking. “I couldn't wash myself clean.”
Suckow insisted Monday morning that his intention, even when he arrived at the Carlile home that night in December 2013, was not to kill. He brought along handcuffs and dressed in SWAT gear in an attempt to pull off a home invasion robbery, he told the jury, though he'd been emailing with Delao for months about killing Carlile.
“People usually obey police officers, and all I wanted to do was tie (Carlile) up,” Suckow said.
Instead, he emptied an entire clip from a .45 handgun and ran. Suckow said he expected an additional $20,000 and some OxyContin pills from Henrikson for killing Carlile.
U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza called for a lunch recess shortly after Suckow described killing Carlile. Testimony is scheduled to continue Monday afternoon, including potential cross-examination from Henrikson's defense.
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