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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Prejudicial’ statements from Carlile’s family ordered withheld in Henrikson murder trial

A statement allegedly made by Doug Carlile to his family before his death in December 2013 identifying James Henrikson as his potential killer won’t be heard by jurors, and its publicity could once again move a trial in the murder-for-hire case.

U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza ruled Tuesday that a statement made by Carlile’s son to Spokane investigators - that his father suspected Henrikson might kill him over North Dakota oil business dealings - may not be used in court by prosecutors when a trial begins next month. The statement had been included in court documents charging Timothy Suckow as the triggerman in Carlile’s death at his South Hill home in what originally appeared to be a home invasion robbery gone awry.

Suckow and several other co-defendants have since pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the alleged murder plots of both Carlile and Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke. Henrikson rescinded his guilty plea in November, and is set for trial next month in Richland.

That could change. Mendoza left open the option of moving the trial out of Eastern Washington, as requested by Henrikson’s lawyers. They say the case has received media attention that could prejudice a jury against Henrikson.

“Henrikson argues that the trial must be moved because of the volume of media coverage in the Spokane area,” Mendoza wrote in his ruling. “That is not the problem … The problem is that the press coverage included a number of facts and statements that have been excluded by the court.”

Mendoza found that several media reports in Spokane, including articles from The Spokesman-Review, referenced the statement made by Carlile’s son. Mendoza previously ordered an October trial moved from Spokane to Richland, and on Tuesday he reserved ruling on whether the new January trial should be moved out of the district.

Jurors may hear testimony from Sarah Creveling. She is Henrikson’s ex-wife and is expected to testify he “seemed weirdly calm” the night of Carlile’s slaying, and that he ripped a phone out of the wall when she asked if he was involved in his former business partner’s death.

Suckow could testify that when he and Henrikson were brought to Spokane in September for a court hearing, Henrikson said to him, “I hear they can’t find the body.” The remains of Clarke, who was last seen in February 2012, have not been found by authorities. Suckow has said Clarke was bludgeoned to death at Henrikson’s order and buried in a North Dakota state park.

Investigators allege Henrikson ordered Suckow to kill Carlile because the South Hill resident would not sell his shares to a joint oil drilling operation on the Fort Bechtold Indian Reservation near Watford City, North Dakota.

Henrikson’s trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 25 in Richland. A final pretrial conference is scheduled there Jan. 11.

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