The trial of accused murder-for-hire mastermind James Henrikson will continue Tuesday, but it's unclear for how long after that.
U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza ruled Tuesday morning that texts between Spokane Police Detective Mark Burbridge and defense witness Robert Delao between January 2014 and March 2014 should have been disclosed by prosecutors to Henrikson's defense team. But Mendoza reserved ruling on a defense request for a mistrial in the case until after Burbridge, Delao and Delao's attorney Andrea George, who is also head of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, testify about the extent of plea deal negotiations at that time.
Federal prosecutors turned over the texts to the defense team Friday, three weeks into the lengthy trial of Henrikson, who is accused of ordering the slayings of Doug Carlile in Spokane and Kristopher "K.C." Clarke in North Dakota. Todd Maybrown, one of the attorneys for Henrikson, argued Tuesday that Delao was allowed to offer "false testimony" on the stand about his negotiations with Spokane police just days after Carlile was found dead in his South Hill home.
"I'm very concerned about the hiding of this evidence," Maybrown said.
Delao told jurors in his testimony for the prosecution that conversations with Spokane police focused solely on scheduling times to interview and attaining an attorney. But in the texts that were divulged, Burbridge writes on Jan. 28, "we can get you an attorney and a written immunity agreement. Your time is running out."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed said the government did not intentionally withhold the texts, and disagreed that they provided enough legal ground to call a mistrial or continue the proceedings while defense attorneys obtain the complete phone log of Burbridge.
"If I had known about this info, I may have disclosed it," Ahmed said. But Burbridge also points out that only prosecutors can cut a deal with Delao, not the police.
Maybrown said the texts support the defense's theory that Spokane police "would do anything to get Mr. Henrikson." Delao also testified he served as a link between Henrikson and Timothy Suckow, the man who pleaded guilty to shooting Carlile to death in his home and bludgeoning Clarke to death in Henrikson's machine shop near Watford City, North Dakota.
George, Delao and Burbridge are expected to testify today. The 17-member jury has been excused for the rest of Tuesday. You can follow developments in the courtroom by following me on Twitter:
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