Supreme Court Verdict still allows Ex-Doctor to be Imprisoned
A divided Montana Supreme Court may have overturned a former Bitterroot Valley physician’s conviction on two charges of negligent homicide, but Chris Christensen will still face prison on other charges.
On Wednesday, Montana’s high court ruled that the state did not prove that Christensen’s actions in prescribing medications directly caused two deaths.
Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright spoke with KGVO News after the decision.
“The positive out of this decision is that the Supreme Court upheld and affirmed 20 of the 22 felony convictions on the Christensen case,” said Fulbright. “There are still 11 convictions of illegally distributing opioid drugs and there's nine convictions for endangering the lives of his patients in so doing.”
Fulbright said the Ravalli County District Court will now get the case back from the Montana Supreme Court.
“The Supreme Court has a process after they issue a decision like this,” he said. “There's a process by which they send it back to the trial court, that’s the district court here (in Ravalli County) and they will remand it back. Then we will proceed forward and we are at the stage where the defendant here was sentenced and that sentence was stayed, so we will appear in District Court and ask the judge to lift that stay, and we fully expect the defendant Mr. Christensen to start serving his 10 year prison term.”
Fulbright noted that Christensen has been free since his conviction and has been living in his home in Ravalli County, awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision. County Attorney Fulbright said Christensen will still face significant prison time.
“What the Supreme Court ruled, they did reverse those two convictions for negligent homicide, but they at the same time upheld, or what we call affirmed, all the other convictions, so they are valid and he has to stand for those.”
It is not known when Christensen will appear before the Ravalli County District Court or when he might begin his prison sentence.