OSAGE | The Iowa Court of Appeals has dropped one charge for an Osage man convicted of trying to poison a man he had sexually abused.
Mark Bernard Retterath, 53, was sentenced 35 years in prison in October 2016 after a jury found him guilty of attempted murder, solicitation to commit murder and third-degree sex abuse in the plot that unraveled when people he tried to recruit to carry out the killing went to authorities.
Authorities said Retterath — inspired by an episode of the TV show “Breaking Bad” — came up with the plan to extract ricin from castor beans and poison his sex abuse victim to keep him from testifying.
In a ruling handed down Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals remanded the attempted murder charge for dismissal because there was no evidence that Retterath’s actions amounted to an actual assault.
The decision did find there was substantial evidence to back the solicitation to commit murder charge and the sex abuse charge, and those charges still stand.
The attempted murder charge was the most serious of the charges Retterath faced. It carries up to 25 years in prison.
Solicitation to commit murder and third-degree sexual abuse each carry up to 10 years in prison.
Wednesday’s decision also allows a district court judge to examine mental health records of two prosecution witnesses for exculpatory evidence. The defense had sought to inspect the records in preparation for trial.
According to court records, investigators found a printout that outlined how to extract ricin from castor beans and five examples of ricin-purification recipes while searching Retterath's home. Authorities also found a jar of castor beans in his house and a baggie holding about 10 beans in the pocket of a pair of Retterath’s jeans.
Retterath is scheduled to stand trial on third-degree sexual abuse and exploitation charges May 21, 2018, at an undetermined courthouse outside of Mitchell County.
While acting as a person's Alcoholic Anonymous sponsor, Retterath is accused of performing multiple sexual acts on a person without that person's permission, according to court documents.