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HAMPTON — An Osage man was found guilty Friday of molesting a young man from the time he was a teen and plotting to kill him using a method allegedly inspired by the TV show “Breaking Bad.”

Mark Retterath, 52, showed no emotion as he was pronounced guilty of attempted murder, solicitation to commit murder and third-degree sexual abuse.

A Franklin County jury returned that verdict after an hour and a half of deliberation. The trial was moved from Mitchell County due to pre-trial media coverage and all the participants being from Mitchell County.

Retterath will be sentenced Oct. 10.

Retterath has a “long, twisted history” with his victim that began when the accuser was 13, said Assistant Iowa Attorney General Denise Timmins during closing arguments.

That twisted path led to Retterath plotting last year to kill the victim, who is now a young adult, after he reported the abuse, according to Timmins.

The state claimed Retterath got the idea for his method for killing the accuser when a friend told him about an episode of the TV show “Breaking Bad” in which a character extracted ricin from castor beans to kill someone.

Computer records show Retterath ordered the beans online and did a Google search for how to extract ricin from them and how long it takes ricin to degrade.

After two men went to police and said Retterath asked them for help in carrying out his plan, officers executed a search warrant at his residence and found the ricin instructions and a small plastic bag with some castor beans in a pocket of a pair of jeans Retterath had been wearing the day before.

“The castor beans are a cocked gun,” Timmins said. “He had them in his pocket. They could have been crushed at any time.”

She said crushed castor beans could easily be mixed with a drug like heroin. The informants told police Retterath planned to mix ricin with heroin and have one of them put it inside the home of the victim, who was addicted to drugs.

Timmons said although Retterath, whose family was on friendly terms with the victim’s family, did not touch him in a sexual manner until the boy was 16, he began “grooming” him when he was 13.

During the trial the accuser testified Retterath showed him pornography and encouraged him to masturbate while they they were alone in Rettearth’s truck on some land he owned near Stacyville, where the two of them had gone to plant some trees.

The accuser said Retterath pulled out a Lugar handgun and placed it on the center console of the truck. Although he didn’t point the gun at the boy’s head, the presence of the weapon was a “subtle threat” that stayed with him and colored his subsequent encounters with Retterath, according to Timmins.

“How could anything after that be consensual?” she said.

The victim testified that on several occasions from the time he was 16 until he was a young adult, Retterath had him watch pornography with him and asked him to masturbate side-by-side with him. The young man said when he complied, Retterath would reach over and touch his penis.

Angela Campbell, Retterath’s attorney, said the accuser made up his molestation story, noting he told one version of events to law enforcement more than a year ago but told a different version during the trial. For example, the young man initially told police Retterath first touched him sexually when he was 13, not 16, she noted.

Campbell said although law enforcement did forensic examinations of Retterath’s computers and cell phone, they never found the texts one of the informants said he and Retterath exchanged about plans to kill the accuser.

During the trial Retterath testified he is a plant enthusiast and ordered castor beans because he wanted to grow castor trees. He also said he wanted to use some of the beans to put down a gopher hole on his property, hoping to get rid of the pests.


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