Matthew Roberts: Trial set for physician tied to guitarist’s fatal overdose.
Dr. Richard Snellgrove briefly stopped prescribing the powerful opioid fentanyl to former 3 Doors Down guitarist Matt Roberts after singer Prince died from a fentanyl overdose, records prosecutors have filed in a criminal case say.
Snellgrove, who practiced in Fairhope, Alabama, is charged with 13 counts of writing fentanyl and other prescriptions for Roberts that were not medically necessary and with causing the musician’s death from a fentanyl overdose. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
His trial, expected to last 10 days, begins at 8:30 a.m. Friday before U.S. District Judge Kristi K. DuBose in Mobile.
If prosecutors prove fentanyl killed 38-year-old Roberts, the sentence on that count alone is a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors have said they plan to use as evidence texts that Roberts and Snellgrove exchanged about Prince’s death. Snellgrove knew Roberts was a drug addict, court records say, having helped him enter rehab for one month in the spring of 2012, after the co-author of hit song “Kryptonite” left 3 Doors Down.
Less than three months before he died, in late May 2016, Roberts and Snellgrove texted about Prince’s death.
“During this exchange, Roberts stated that he understood Dr. Snellgrove needed to drop ‘things down,’ ” says a motion filed in the case by Richard W. Moore, U.S. Attorney for Alabama’s Southern District.
“Prior to this text message exchange, Dr. Snellgrove prescribed fentanyl to Roberts, both directly and indirectly, during the months of March and April 2016. Following this text message exchange, Dr. Snellgrove did not prescribe fentanyl again to Roberts until July 12, 2016.”
Roberts’ respiratory system shut down from an overdose on the early morning of Aug. 20, 2016 — less than three months after the alleged text exchange
A guest found his body and thought he was sleeping in the hallway outside his hotel room in West Bend, Wisconsin. He was scheduled to play as a celebrity guest guitarist with the band NIX later that day at a veterans’ benefit in Milwaukee.
Roberts was wearing a fentanyl patch when he died. An autopsy also found in his system the opioid hydrocodone and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam, both medications Snellgrove prescribed.