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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Federal judge denies murder-for-hire mastermind James Henrikson’s request for a new sentencing hearing

The Thomas S. Foley United States Courthouse is seen from the north in this May 2019 photo.  (JESSE TINSLEY)

The man convicted of ordering the murder of a South Hill businessman in 2013 won’t get a new sentencing hearing after arguing a 2022 federal court ruling should prompt a new look at his case.

James T. Henrikson, 44, is serving two life sentences at a high-security federal prison in California after his 2016 conviction on 11 charges tied to the deaths of the businessman, Doug Carlile, and Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke. In April, Henrikson filed his own petition asking that his sentencing be revisited because four of the charges were solicitation to commit murder for hire, and that another federal murder-for-hire case decided in December determined that in order to be guilty of that crime the target had to be killed.

Multiple witnesses testified in a weekslong trial in Richland in 2016 that Henrikson, a business partner of Carlile’s in oil field speculation in North Dakota, ordered Spokane Valley resident Timothy Suckow to kill him because of a debt. Suckow testified at that trial that Henrikson had also paid him to bludgeon Clarke to death in a truck shop. Clarke, an employee of Henrikson’s, was buried in a shallow grave that has still not been found.

Two of the other murder-for-hire solicitation charges involved people who were not killed. Federal prosecutors conceded that under the December ruling, Henrikson had to be found innocent of those two charges.

In his nine-page ruling on the request, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice agreed. He dismissed the two solicitation charges, but noted that Henrikson was already serving two consecutive life sentences on other charges, and that reversing them would make no change in his imprisonment.

Rice also denied Henrikson the ability to appeal his ruling.

“The Court concludes that defendant is not entitled to (an appeal) because he has not demonstrated that jurists of reason could disagree with this Court’s resolution or conclude the issues presented deserve encouragement to proceed further,” Rice wrote.

Suckow, 59, apologized to Carlile’s widow during his own sentencing hearing in 2016. He is serving his sentence at a medium-security facility in New Jersey and is scheduled for release in 2038, according to the Bureau of Prisons.