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Retterath gets attempted murder conviction overturned

Mark Retterath

Iowa Court of Appeals cuts his sentence by two-thirds.

Posted: Dec 22, 2017 3:04 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa – An Osage man found guilty of a TV-inspired attempted murder scheme gets the bulk of his sentence thrown out.

53-year-old Mark Bernard Retterath was convicted of attempted murder, solicitation to commit murder, and 3rd degree sexual abuse. Authorities say Retterath came up with a plan to extract the poison ricin from castor beans, as was portrayed on “Breaking Bad,” and use it to kill the man claiming Retterath abused him when the victim was 13 years old.

He was sentenced to up to 25 years for attempted murder and up to 10 years for solicitation, to be served consecutively for a total of no more than 35 years, and 10 years for the sex abuse to be served concurrently.

The Iowa Court of Appeals has now upheld the conviction and sentences for solicitation and sexual abuse but dismissed the guilty verdict and prison time for attempted murder. The Court ruled that Retterath failed to commit necessary overt act for that crime, specifically noting that Retterath “had no poison. He did not live in wait or search (for his victim); he did not case a location for the crime; he did not entice (the victim) to such a place, nor enter a structure for the purpose of committing the crime.”

The Appeals Court ruling reduces Retterath’s sentence to 10 years in prison, but it also ruled that the district court must review the mental health records of two witnesses against Retterath. If anything in those records supports Retterath’s defense, he could get a new trial on the charge of solicitation to commit murder.

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