UPDATE (3:56 p.m.) – Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that the western Montana pain doctor who was convicted on 22 felonies, including two counts of negligent homicide in the overdose deaths of two patients plans to appeal.
Chris Christensen was convicted Monday morning in the deaths of Greg Griffin and Kara Philbrick-Lenker.
Ravalli County prosecutors argued Christensen should have known his prescribing practices were putting patients at risk after the overdose deaths of five patients in Idaho in the 1990s.
Defense attorney Josh Van de Wetering said they plan to appeal after Christensen is sentenced in late December. He says even if Christensen’s prescriptions were misguided, that doesn’t constitute a crime or make him responsible for anyone’s death.
The case began when other members of the medical community complained about Christensen’s prescribing practices and some pharmacists refused to fill his prescriptions.
The state Board of Medical Examiners revoked his medical license in January 2016.
HAMILTON – A Ravalli County jury found former Florence doctor Chris Christensen guilty of 22 felony charges Monday morning.
The former Florence doctor was on trial for two counts of negligent homicide, nine counts of criminal endangerment and 11 counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs, all felony charges.
The jury received the case after closing arguments Thursday afternoon after hearing a flood of detailed testimony from both sides over the course of several weeks.
Several of the doctor’s former patients testified in court, some telling stories of how their lives were turned upside down by his procedures over prescribing high amounts of opiates in dangerous combinations.
But defense attorneys claimed the state’s prosecution is grasping at straws and that Christensen is innocent, prescribing drugs to ease people’s suffering.
The Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-agency raid at Big Creek Family Medicine and Urgent Care in Florence in the spring of 2014 after questions were raised over the way Christensen was dispensing prescription drugs.
– Information from Augusta McDonnell