A federal judge has given prosecutors until Feb. 10 to determine whether they will seek the death penalty for five of six men implicated in an alleged murder-for-hire plot tied to North Dakota oil fields that left a South Hill businessman shot to death in his home last year.
U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza set the deadline for the government to make its decision at a court hearing earlier this week. James Henrikson, Timothy Suckow, Robert Delao, Todd Bates, Lazaro Pesina and Robby Wahrer were indicted in September for their alleged roles in the shooting death of Douglas Carlile, who was found dead of gunshots by Spokane Police on Dec. 15. Federal prosecutors have said they may pursue a capital case against all defendants except Bates, who faces conspiracy charges for his alleged role in targeting another business partner of Henrikson's.
Suckow and Henrikson were also indicted for their alleged role in the slaying of Kristopher "K.C." Clake, an employee of Henrikson's on the Bakken shale oil fields who went missing in 2012. His body has not been found.
Prosecutors say representatives from the U.S. Justice Department in Washington D.C. have traveled to Spokane in recent weeks to review the case and determine if a capital sentence is warranted.
Sixty-two federal inmates are currently on death row, according to nonprofit group the Death Penalty Information Center. Last month, Henrikson's attorney filed a motion with research indicating federal capital cases, when pursued, usually take three years from indictment to a jury's decision.