HAMILTON - The trial of a former Florence doctor facing hundreds of felony drug charges and accused of bringing about the death of two patients that overdosed opens Thursday in Ravalli County with jury selection is finally getting underway more than three years after Dr. Chris Christensen’s clinic was raided.
The Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-agency raid at Big Creek Family Medicine and Urgent Care in Florence back in the spring of 2014 after questions were raised over the way Dr. Christensen was dispensing prescription drugs.
A state board subsequently suspended Dr. Christensen’s medical license. However, when no formal charges were filed, the Montana Board of Medical Examiners moved to reinstate Dr. Christensen’s license, only to withdraw it again after hearing evidence he’d gone back to writing prescriptions.
Dr. Christensen was accused of negligent homicide for the death of two patients, a man in 2012 and another woman in 2013 when formal charges were filed after a lengthy investigation, He also faces more felonies for those two deaths, criminal endangerment charges involving nine other patients and nearly 400 additional counts for distribution of dangerous drugs.
Dr. Christensen had repeatedly fought the charges, complaining of the cost of finding legal representation and saying he needed a court-appointed attorney. That argument was denied by Judge Jeffery Langton, but it still resulted in a one year delay in the case.
Jury selection in the case is set to begin Thursday in Ravalli County District Court with opening arguments expected on Monday. Judge Langton is expected to try and keep the hearing focused on the actual charges against Christensen, and not the broader issue of prescription drug abuse.