A federal judge left in place James Henrikson’s guilty verdict on an 11-count indictment tied to murder-for-hire plots, dismissing defense attorneys’ claims that the evidence against him came from a cadre of unbelievable criminals.
U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza ruled from the bench in Spokane on Tuesday morning, after a 40-minute presentation from Mark Vovos, one of the attorneys representing Henrikson. Clad in a white prison jumpsuit, Henrikson showed no emotion after Mendoza’s denial of his request for acquittal or a new trial on charges he ordered the deaths of Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke, Douglas Carlile and other business partners.
Vovos argued key witnesses provided self-interested testimony in a case that was “overwhelming, but muddled to some extent.” Federal prosecutors made their case over a series of several weeks in a Richland courtroom before jurors returned a guilty verdict on all counts after deliberating for a little more than a day.
“These were all criminals,” Vovos said of many of the witnesses called by the prosecution. “They were all subject to charges.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Jones offered a brief rebuttal before Mendoza ruled. In court documents, Jones wrote the defense’s position that multiple people conspired to frame Henrikson was a theory “on the level of ‘the CIA faked the moon landings.’ ”
Carlile was found shot dead in his South Hill home December 2013. Timothy Suckow pleaded guilty to shooting Carlile and testified it was at Henrikson’s direction. Suckow also testified he traveled to North Dakota and bludgeoned Clarke to death before burying him in a shallow grave on state parkland. Clarke’s body has not been found.
Henrikson faces a mandatory 10-year sentence on a drug-related charge and could be imprisoned for life. A sentencing hearing is scheduled in Spokane later this month.
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