Emotional testimony heard as trial continues for ex-Florence doc - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Emotional testimony heard as trial continues for ex-Florence doctor

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HAMILTON - The mother of one of Chris Christensen’s deceased patients took the stand in a Hamilton courtroom on Tuesday recalling the heartbreak of discovering her unresponsive son.

Christensen is charged with two counts of negligent homicide, along with 21 other felony charges.

Prosecutors introduced Greg Griffin’s mother, Sharon on Tuesday, who discovered her son’s body in April of 2012. 

According to a Missoula County Sheriff’s Officer coroner, Griffin died of mixed toxicity. His death is considered accidental, but Christensen is accused of wrongly prescribing the medications that led to Griffin’s death.

Three different medications were discovered at the scene that he had prescriptions to take. 

Sharon Griffin says her son had struggled with substance abuse for many years but had been taking medications to help him get off of opioids. She described the horror of finding her son after he died. 

“No response at all. And I shook him, still no response, and pretty soon I opened up his eyes and I yelled at him, "Greg! Greg! Greg! And so then I called 911.”

A number of pills were missing at the scene, according to MCSO officials. But, they concluded that the death was accidental.

Both the prosecution and the defense minced the details in Tuesday's hearing of how prescription drugs should be administered.  The jury listened to a Missoula pharmacist explain how prescription drugs work, and why some drugs should not be combined.

One of the prosecution’s points concerns accusations that Christensen did not keep good medical charts for his patients. They say those charts are necessary to prescribe the right mix of medications for patients who may have a variety of medical needs. 

“Is it quality of life for the individual? Is it functionality?" asked Vince Colucci, a pharmacist with the International Heart Institute of Montana. "And so reaching those objectives, in order to potentially reacoal I think is very important, because it puts everybody on the same page.”

Defense attorneys responded that Christensen did not need detailed charts because they are mainly used by physicians for insurance purposes, and Christensen’s practice did not accept insurance. 

Christensen’s trial continues on Thursday.

RELATED: Opening arguments begin in case of ex-Florence doctor

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