This week, Alabama physician Dr. Richard Snellgrove will be put on the stand and tried in the death of the former lead guitarist of 3 Doors Down, Matthew Roberts. Snellgrove is facing 13 federal counts for illegal distribution of controlled substances as well as health care and insurance fraud. The physician is facing upwards of 240 years of prison time and about $3 million of fines and has pleaded not guilty.
In 2016, Roberts was in Wisconsin to perform a benefit concert for military personnel and was found dead in the hallway of the Milwaukee hotel he was staying at. Although he was only found with a fentanyl patch on his body that was administering dosages of the extremely powerful and addictive substance to him, the official cause of death was determined by a medical examiner as an overdose of a mixture of medications – fentanyl, hydrocodone, and alprazolam.
Roberts was one of the original members of 3 Doors Down, a popular rock group which gained notoriety for their early millennium song “Kryptonite” which was nominated for a Grammy, dominated the radio waves during that time, and is still aired to this day. He parted ways with the band in 2012 due to “health and circulation issues,” but continued to make music and go on less strenuous tours with smaller bands.
Snellgrove had been Roberts’ prescribing physician since 2005. Over that 11-year span, Snellgrove had written prescriptions of commonly abused narcotics such as oxycodone, lorazepam, and fentanyl for Roberts and a person by the name of “J.R.” In the pretrial, a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official testified that those prescriptions made out to “J.R.” were for Roberts to use because his health insurance would not cover the costs of his fentanyl.
Darrell, Roberts’ father, commented about his son’s death, “I know he had prescription drug addiction. He suffered greatly from anxiety. I thought he had beaten it all.” The charges against Dr. Snellgrove include that he was improperly prescribing medication to Roberts; one of the arguments being made is that Snellgrove continued to prescribe these narcotics even though he was well aware of Roberts’ struggles with addiction.
Depending on the verdict of this criminal trial, Roberts’ family will be looking to sue Snellgrove again as well as Rite Aid Corp. in Alabama civil court. Not only is the family seeking justice for the death of their son but also hoping to send a message to other physicians who may be killing their patients in the same manner. These prescription benzos and opioids became Roberts’ true kryptonite and ultimately the cause of his downfall.