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Alabama doctor acquitted in rock guitarist's overdose death


MOBILE, Ala. — Jurors acquitted an Alabama physician accused of prescribing drugs that killed a former guitarist for rock band 3 Doors Down.

The not guilty verdict was returned Monday in the case of Dr. Richard Snellgrove, court documents show. Snellgrove had been indicted on 13 counts of unlawful distribution of drugs and health care fraud tied to the 2016 death of Matthew Roberts.

Prosecutors said Snellgrove prescribed drugs to Roberts even though he knew Roberts struggled with addiction. Snellgrove's lawyer, Dennis Knizley, said the physician's actions were reasonable and prosecutors targeted Snellgrove because Roberts was famous.

Knizley said text messages introduced by the defence at trial showed that Roberts was seeking illegal drugs in addition to medications he got from Snellgrove. The defence argued that alone showed Roberts' death couldn't be hung on Snellgrove.

"He was obtaining and abusing street drugs at the same time he was obtaining drugs and to a certain degree deceiving Dr. Snellgrove," Knizley told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Richard Moore did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Roberts was a founding member of 3 Doors Down when the rock group began in 1996 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He co-authored the band's hit song "Kryptonite," which in 2001 was nominated for a Grammy award for best rock song. Roberts left the band after its 2012 European tour, checking into rehab the same year. He was found dead in August 2016 in a hotel hallway in West Bend, Wisconsin, where he had gone to perform a charity concert.

Snellgrove had treated Roberts as early as 2005, and prosecutors argued that Snellgrove prescribed escalating amounts of medication in a way that was imprudent. Knizley described his client as a "good person and a good doctor" and said federal prosecutor had "wrecked" his reputation and medical practice.

U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose on Thursday had dismissed four of the charges against Snellgrove relating to prescriptions he wrote to Jeremy Ryals, Roberts' roommate and cousin. Prosecutors had alleged that Snellgrove knew the drugs were really for Roberts, but Knizley said prosecutors never proved those claims.

Jurors began deliberating on the remaining counts Friday after a two-week trial.

Roberts' family is also suing Snellgrove, Rite Aid Corp. and others in a civil lawsuit in state court in Alabama. That case was stayed pending the outcome of Snellgrove's criminal case.

The Associated Press

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