SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Three men have pleaded guilty in federal court in the murder-for-hire slaying of a Spokane businessman that arose from business dealings in the North Dakota oil patch.
The case involved the shooting death of Doug Carlile in his upscale Spokane home nearly two years ago.
On Wednesday, Timothy Suckow, Robert Delao and Lazaro Pesina changed their pleas to guilty on various charges in the case. Suckow admitted to being the gunman who shot Carlile in December 2013.
Suckow, 51, listened to details of his crimes with his head in his hands.
“The truth must be told,” Suckow told U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza, moments before he pleaded guilty to performing murder-for-hire in the deaths of Carlile and Kristopher “K.C.” Clarke.
Prosecutors will recommend a 30-year prison sentence for Suckow, contingent upon providing testimony against James Henrikson and others.
“I was told by Mr. Henrikson, through (Robert) Delao, that Mr. Carlile was to be murdered for $20,000,” Suckow told the judge.
The Spokesman-Review reported that Suckow, Pesina and Delao will be sentenced on December 8.
Suckow told Mendoza “no one else was there” when he shot Carlile seven times in his home.
Prosecutors contend Henrikson was enraged that Carlile would not give up his shares in an oil lease on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota and owed him nearly $2 million.
He called on Suckow, according to a grand jury indictment and prosecutors, because the Spokane Valley resident had killed before, bludgeoning Clarke to death, prosecutors said. Suckow told investigators they buried Clarke’s body at a nearby state park, but the body has yet to be found, according to court records.
Henrikson, who is accused of masterminding the slayings, has asked that his trial be moved out of Spokane because of extensive publicity. He faces charges of ordering the killings of Carlile and Clarke, one of his former trucking company employees.
Prosecutors said Delao, who gave Suckow the order to kill Carlile via text message, pleaded guilty to nine federal charges, including murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of up to 17 years in prison.
Pesina, who was present outside the Carlile home for the shooting but said he didn’t realize it was going to end in murder, pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge. Prosecutors recommended a 12-year sentence.
The judge does not have to abide by the plea deals during sentencing, but if he opts for a different sentence, either party could pull out of the deal.
At the beginning of the day, it appeared only Henrikson would be seated at the defense table when trial is scheduled to commence in Spokane on Oct. 5.
But Todd Bates, who is accused of discussing plots to kill four of Henrikson’s business rivals stemming from oil speculation in North Dakota, did not convince Mendoza that his guilty plea was willful. At a hearing Wednesday morning, Bates said he remembered discussing assault with Delao at the direction of Henrikson, not murder. He told Mendoza he was dyslexic.
A fifth defendant, Robby Wahrer, who is accused of driving Suckow and Pesina to the Carlile home, chose not to plead guilty after Bates was excused from the courtroom.
Henrikson was brought back to Spokane from the Yakima County Jail for the hearing. He was moved to Yakima last month following a suspected jailbreak attempt in Spokane.