Testimony begins today in the trial of an Iowa cancer patient and his family who are accused of growing marijuana last year.
On Wednesday, attorneys selected 12 jurors — seven men and five women — and three alternates to hear the case of Benton Mackenzie, 48, his wife Loretta, 43, and son Cody, 22.
Benton and Loretta Mackenzie are charged with manufacturing marijuana, conspiracy, violation of the drug tax stamp act, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Cody Mackenzie is charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
Late Wednesday, Assistant Scott County Attorney Patrick McElyea gave jurors a short peek at what he expects to prove at trial.
According to McElyea, the family lived with Benton Mackenzie’s parents, Charles and Dorothy, at 27120 183rd Ave., Long Grove, on June 21, 2013.
On that day, Scott County sheriff’s deputies raided the property and discovered an RV and trailer parked next to the side of the house.
Inside, deputies discovered 60 to 70 marijuana plants, as well as electrical, ventilation and water equipment, McElyea said.
“This is no small operation,” he told jurors. “This was the real deal.”
In a safe under Cody Mackenzie’s bed, deputies found marijuana. Smoking pipes and other paraphernalia were found in his bedroom and in the house, McElyea said.
Deputies discovered that the RV was registered to the mother of Stephen Bloomer, a longtime friend of Benton Mackenzie. Mail addressed to Bloomer was also found in the RV, McElyea said.
A search of Bloomer’s property in Davenport turned up receipts for marijuana growing equipment and Mackenzie’s car parked at the house. Deputies found other documentation that linked the two, McElyea said.
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Benton Mackenzie, who uses a wheelchair, sat quietly with hands clasped in front of him as McElyea laid out the case. Occasionally, he picked at his fingers. Mackenzie has repeatedly and publicly said that he grew marijuana to extract cannabis oil to treat painful lesions produced by his angiosarcoma, a terminal cancer.
Iowa law does not allow medical marijuana. Scott County District Judge Henry Latham ruled in May that the law does not allow medicinal necessity as a legal defense.
Benton Mackenzie is represented by Joel Walker; Loretta Mackenzie is represented by Rebecca Ruggero; and Cody Mackenzie is represented by Derek Jones.
Defense attorneys said Wednesday that they will give their opening arguments after McElyea rests his case.
Latham said Monday that the trial is expected to last 10 days. However, attorneys have indicated this week that the trial could end sooner.
Bloomer, 49, pleaded guilty Monday to manufacturing marijuana in the case. He is expected to testify against the Mackenzies.
Charles and Dorothy Mackenzie, 76 and 75, are charged with hosting a drug house. They have not yet been tried.