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Iowa Supreme Court says Osage man convicted of solicitation to commit murder should not get a new trial

OSAGE — The Iowa Supreme Court has agreed with an Iowa Court of Appeals decision that an Osage man should not be retried at this time after being convicted of solicitation to commit murder.

56-year-old Mark Retterath was convicted in 2016 of sexual abuse, attempted murder and the solicitation charge and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

During the trial, two people that were in Retterath’s Alcoholics Anonymous group testified that he asked for their assistance in killing his sexual abuse accuser.  Rettrath sought to obtain the counseling records of those two on the basis that they might contain critical information for his defense, claiming both had received treatment for conditions that might affect their reliability as witnesses. A district court judge denied his requests, but the Iowa Court of Appeals overturned this ruling and Retterath’s attempted murder conviction in 2017 and sent the case back to district court to review the records to determine whether they did contain critical information, and if it was appropriate, order a new trial.

Prosecutors were only able to obtain records for one of the two witnesses, but they were not able to get the records of the other as federal authorities said that would violate patient confidentiality rules. The district court judge ordered a new trial, saying it was unable to follow the Iowa Court of Appeals instructions and that any doubt must be resolved in Retterath’s favor. Prosecutors appealed, and the Iowa Court of Appeals in late 2020 overruled the district court, saying that a new trial was only justified if there was new evidence, with Retterath then appealing that decision.

The Iowa Supreme Court in a ruling issued today backed the 2020 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling, stating that if Retterath successfully obtains the unavailable records of the one witness, the district court should conduct a review of the records to determine if Retterath should receive a new trial, but if Retterath fails to do so, it does not entitle him to a retrial.

You can see a copy of the full ruling by clicking here

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