Mackenzie trial

Loretta, center, and Benton Mackenzie, right, talk with Loretta's attorney, Rebbeca Ruggero, after court was adjourned for the day Wednesday. Prosecutors rested their case Thursday, and defense attorneys will give their opening arguments Monday morning.


The strong “skunk-like” smell coming from a recreational vehicle and pull-behind trailer at a rustic Long Grove property in June 2013 left little doubt in the mind of Scott County Sheriff’s Detective Joe Caffery of what he would find when he opened the door.

Inside, Caffery and another deputy discovered 71 marijuana plants in various stages of growth.

He also found growing equipment, such as a ventilation and water system, canisters of carbon dioxide, timers, soil and nutrients.

Caffery, a member of the Quad-City Metropolitan Enforcement Group, testified that it appeared to be a large-scale growing operation.

He was one of three witnesses to testify Thursday before Assistant Scott County Attorney Patrick McElyea rested his case against Benton Mackenzie, a 48-year-old cancer patient; 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.

Benton Mackenzie is represented by attorney Joel Walker; Loretta Mackenzie is represented by attorney Rebecca Ruggero; and Cody Mackenzie is represented by attorney Derek Jones.

Defense attorneys are expected to give opening arguments Monday.

Sheriff's Deputy Dan Furlong testified that deputies searched the property at 27120 183rd Ave. just before 6 a.m. June 21, 2013.

The home belongs to Benton Mackenzie's parents, Charles and Dorothy.

Furlong said the RV found next to the house was registered to the mother of Stephen Bloomer, 49, of Davenport, a longtime friend of Benton Mackenzie.

Mail with Bloomer's name and address was found in the RV, Furlong testified.

Furlong testified that Mackenzie told him that Bloomer had brought over the RV and trailer so he could grow marijuana in them.

Mackenzie also told him that no one else was involved, Furlong testified.

Deputies searching the home found a box containing a piece of growing equipment in the basement where Benton and Loretta Mackenzie live.

Loretta Mackenzie's name and address were on a shipping label on the box, Caffery testified.

Caffery testified that less than a gram of marijuana was found in a black safe under Cody Mackenzie’s bed. A red glass water bong also was found, he said.

Deputies then searched Bloomer’s Davenport home, where they found receipts for growing equipment, such as a light and piping, and a car registration for a 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier registered to Mackenzie and his father, Charles, Furlong testified.

Furlong said the items listed on the receipts were found in the RV.

In Bloomer’s bedroom, deputies found a digital scale, grinder, part of a bong and some loose marijuana on top of a dresser. In the kitchen, they found marijuana seeds and marijuana on a plate in a cabinet, Furlong testified.

Furlong testified that it appeared Bloomer was providing financial assistance in the growing operation in exchange for a small amount of marijuana.

Under cross-examination from Mackenzie’s attorney, Joel Walker, Furlong said the scale, grinder and bong found in Bloomer’s bedroom was not dusted for fingerprints.

Bloomer pleaded guilty Monday to manufacturing marijuana, a Class D felony. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 21.

Mackenzie has said he grew marijuana to extract cannabis oil to treat painful lesions produced by his angiosarcoma, a terminal cancer of the blood vessels.

The jury won't hear his explanation, however. Scott County District Judge Henry Latham ruled in May that the law does not allow medicinal necessity as a legal defense.

After McElyea rested his case Thursday, Latham denied motions for acquittal from the Mackenzies.

Jones expressed concern that testimony thus far in the case may lead jurors to think the Mackenzies were drug dealers.

He argued that the defense should be allowed to present evidence to the contrary, namely that the marijuana was grown for medical use.

Latham denied Jones’ request and pointed out that the Mackenzies are not charged with drug dealing and that the evidence thus far — mainly the presence of drug paraphernalia in the home — is that they were using the marijuana that they grew.