A judge has set a trial date for an Iowa man suffering from terminal cancer after appointing a lawyer to defend the man against marijuana charges.
Scott County District Judge Henry Latham said Wednesday that the trial of Benton Mackenzie will begin June 30. He appointed Joel Walker to defend the man.
The 48-year-old Mackenzie, who has been diagnosed with angiosarcoma, appeared in the courtroom in a wheelchair.
He is charged in a conspiracy to grow marijuana along with his wife, Loretta Mackenzie, and his friend, Stephen Bloomer.
Scott County Sheriff's deputies say they searched Mackenzie's parents' Long Grove property and found 71 marijuana plants last summer.
Mackenzie says he needed all of those plants to extract enough cannabis oil for daily treatments of his cancer and to relieve symptoms of the disease.
His 22-year-old son, Cody Mackenzie, was charged with misdemeanor possession after deputies said they found marijuana in his bedroom. Benton Mackenzie's 73-year-old parents, Charles and Dorothy Mackenzie, are charged with hosting a drug house.
They all appeared in a Scott County courtroom Wednesday. Each had a different attorney present except for Benton Mackenzie.
Lori Kieffer-Garrison was representing him until Friday, when the Iowa Supreme Court suspended her law license for six months, citing multiple violations of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct.
The Mackenzies and Bloomer were set to go to trial this week before Kieffer-Garrison's suspension put the case on hold so a new attorney could be appointed for Benton Mackenzie.
Davenport attorney Murray Bell said Friday that Kieffer-Garrison called him about representing Benton Mackenzie. Latham said Wednesday that Bell has declined to do so.
Latham first asked David Treimer to represent Benton Mackenzie, and Treimer appeared at Wednesday's hearing.
"I have no confidence in this attorney," Benton Mackenzie said of Treimer. He said Treimer represented his wife in a prior drug case.
Both Benton and Loretta Mackenzie were convicted of growing marijuana in 2011.
"Now this is coming back to me," Treimer said. "I represented his wife. They alleged they had a problem with my representation. It was for another marijuana case. I see how it could be a conflict of interest."
After a five-minute break, Latham returned, saying that he had called Walker and that Walker agreed to represent Benton Mackenzie.
After the hearing, Benton Mackenzie said Treimer didn't believe his wife's defense in 2011 — that she was only his caretaker and took no part in growing the marijuana.
She is arguing the same defense this time.
Benton Mackenzie also said that in 2011, like last year, he was growing the marijuana to treat his cancer.
Benton and Loretta Mackenzie have said they regret having pleaded guilty to the 2011 charges.