Jurors in the murder-for-hire trial of James Henrikson will not hear that the judge presiding over the case determined that one of the prosecution’s key witnesses gave false testimony in an unrelated robbery years ago.
Judge Salvador Mendoza ruled Friday that his finding that Robert Delao was untruthful in testimony about a 2007 robbery could not be presented to the 17-member jury. In Henrikson’s trial, Delao testified he acted as a go-between for Henrikson and Timothy Suckow to arrange the murder of Doug Carlile.
Henrikson’s defense team requested Mendoza’s ruling in the other case, which was handed down Wednesday and reported Thursday afternoon in a Spokesman-Review story, be presented to jurors to show Delao had a history of not telling the truth under oath. Mendoza said he had a “deep concern” that doing so would confuse those hearing Henrikson’s case about how they should interpret Delao’s testimony in the Carlile killing.
Mendoza did order Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed to turn over all reports prepared ahead of Delao’s sentencing on a felon in possession of ammunition charge. The 41-year-old was given a three-year sentence in August 2010 after pleading guilty to the charge. The co-conspirator Delao testified against, Jack Hewson Jr., received a 24-year sentence after a jury convicted him of armed robbery.
Delao told jurors at Hewson’s trial his testimony would only shave a couple years off his sentence. In fact, firearm enhancements meant that he, too, faced a 24-year prison sentence. Mendoza signed the order Wednesday vacating Hewson’s sentence on federal civil rights violations caused by the 21-year discrepancy.
Ahmed said Delao was not shown any leniency in that case, in a statement to Mendoza arguing against the release of the sentencing records. Defense attorneys plan to call Delao to the stand next week to question him about his testimony, but they cannot mention Mendoza’s ruling.
Prosecutors planned to rest their case Friday after three weeks of testimony, but the question of Delao’s prior testimony delayed proceedings. FBI Agent Eric Barker, the lead investigator on the Carlile murder for the federal government, was on the stand when Mendoza excused the jury at noon Friday.
Barker said he downloaded hundreds of text messages from Henrikson’s two cellphones, and he read some of them to the jury. Among them was an exchange between Henrikson and Carlile just months before Suckow shot and killed the South Hill businessman. At the time Carlile was seeking other investors to force Henrikson out of an oil drilling venture in North Dakota.
“Stay out of my relationship with Pamp,” Carlile texted Henrikson, referring to Pamp Maiers, a Moses Lake businessman investigators say Carlile was courting to replace Henrikson.
“No,” Henrikson texted back, according to Barker’s testimony.
Carlile also texted Henrikson about the oil lease they shared on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
“I am not getting out of the lease until it is finished,” Carlile texted Henrikson, according to Barker’s testimony.
Also on Henrikson’s phone were a photo of the charging document in Carlile’s murder against Suckow and a note with Carlile’s Spokane address.
Earlier Friday, one of Carlile’s sons, Skyler, testified that Henrikson showed up at his office in 2013 demanding money. Skyler Carlile showed Henrikson his gun bag, he testified.
“I started carrying a concealed weapon in 2013, more than any other time in my life,” Skyler Carlile said.
Henrikson faces an 11-count indictment alleging he ordered the murders of Carlile and Kristopher Clarke, a former employee who disappeared in February 2012. Suckow has testified that he carried out the killings of both men at the direction of Henrikson.
The defense plans to begin its case next week in Richland. They have argued that Suckow and Delao are liars, using Henrikson as a scapegoat for their own criminal activity. Henrikson faces life in prison if found guilty.
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