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Trial starts for oil truck operator in North Dakota murder-for-hire case

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The trial of an oil truck operator charged with orchestrating the killings of two business rivals competing for work in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was set to begin on Monday in Washington state.

SEATTLE (Reuters) - The trial of an oil truck operator charged with orchestrating the killings of two business rivals competing for work in North Dakota's Bakken oil patch was set to begin on Monday in Washington state.

James Henrikson admitted last fall to an interstate murder-for-hire plot to kill Kristopher "KC" Clarke in February 2012 in North Dakota and Douglas Carlile in December 2013 in Spokane, Washington.

But Henrikson withdrew his guilty plea in November after a judge ruled he was not made aware of the mandatory minimum penalty of life imprisonment his crimes carried prior to entering the plea, court documents showed. He has now pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin on Monday morning in Richland, in southeastern Washington state, Henrikson's lawyer, Todd Maybrown, and a U.S. District Court clerk in Spokane said.

Henrikson faces charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder-for-hire in alleged plots against several people he viewed as an impediment to his enterprises, an indictment said. He also faces a charge of conspiracy to distribute heroin.

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Three men who prosecutors say arranged and carried out the contract killings pleaded guilty to a host of federal charges in September and are expected to testify at Henrikson's trial, which could last four to six weeks, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

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