Artist News Legal

Des Moines medic charged with involuntary manslaughter in relation to Slipknot bassist’s overdose death

By | Published on Thursday 6 September 2012

Paul Gray

A medic in Des Moines is facing involuntary manslaughter charges for allegedly prescribing large amounts of narcotic painkillers to eight patients who subsequently died of overdoses of those drugs. One of the eight patients named in the court papers is Paul Gray, the Slipknot bassist who died of an overdose in 2010.

Although Gray had suffered from drug addiction, he wasn’t taking illegal substances in the run up to his untimely death. Toxicology tests confirmed the bassist had died of an accidental overdose of morphine and fentanyl, a synthetic morphine substitute. At the time it was thought those drugs hadn’t been formally prescribed, and it was noted that whoever had supplied the narcotics could face charges.

Daniel Baldi worked for a pain clinic run by the Iowa Health System, and according to the Des Moines Register has been subject to four medical malpractice lawsuits, including three wrongful death suits, mainly for prescribing dangerous levels of prescription medications to patients. The criminal action that has now been launched lists seven patients by name, including Gray, and an unnamed eighth victim.

A legal rep for Baldi told reporters that it was incredibly rare for criminal proceedings to be pursued in circumstances like this, noting that “it is unprecedented to turn unfortunate deaths or medical results into a crime against a doctor”. He added that in two of the cases listed in the prosecution’s papers his client had only seen the patient once, and in five cases the patients involved were acknowledged drug addicts. He added: “Unexpected deaths can occur in severe, chronic pain patients, unrelated to medical treatment. This is especially true with patients who are drug addicts or drug abusers”.

With that in mind, Baldi pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges, which could result in sixteen years in jail if a guilty verdict is reached in court. Iowa Health says it suspended Baldi earlier this year, and has shut down the facility where he worked, and has no more comment at this time.

However, Slipknot percussionist Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan has commented, his name, along with that of Gray’s widow Brenna, being on the list of those interviewed as part of the investigation into Baldi’s conduct. The Register quotes Crahan as saying: “The epidemic of this sort of activity [ie providing a ready supply of prescription drugs to known addicts] is becoming more and more evident. It truly is becoming a problem. And it trickles all the way down to the youth. And awareness needs to be brought about. None of this is going to bring back our brother Paul … [but] hopefully justice will be served”.