FORT WORTH — Former Los Angeles Angels communications director Eric Kay was convicted on both counts for his role in the 2019 death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Kay was accused of supplying Skaggs with the opioid fentanyl, which caused Skaggs’ death at age 27 at a hotel near Dallas. A jury of 10 women and two men found Kay guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death and bodily harm serious. With the verdict, Kay faces decades in prison.
Skaggs’ widow, Carli, cried as she walked out of the courtroom, as did Kay’s mother, Sandy.
“I’m in shock,” Sandy Kay said shortly after the verdict was read.
Sentencing of Eric Kay is scheduled for June 28. His attorney, Reagan Wynn, said an appeal would be resolved closer to the sentencing date.
The lawsuit shed light on drug use among Major League Baseball players, several of whom, during testimony, admitted to acquiring opioids through Kay and using them recreationally. Matt Harvey, a former Mets pitcher who was a Skaggs teammate with the Angels in 2019, discussed his own cocaine use, as well as his opioid use. He and others portrayed Kay as a team employee known for his ability to provide players with the drugs they sought, even as he dealt with his own addiction to pills.
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While Harvey, 32, who admitted to sharing opioids with Skaggs, was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, he could still face discipline from MLB. He is a free agent after spending the 2021 season with the Baltimore Orioles.
Skaggs, who several witnesses said had an addiction to the opioid Percocet earlier in his career, allegedly sent several of his teammates to Kay over the years so Kay could acquire drugs for them. Federal prosecutors said Skaggs’ death was caused by pills Kay gave him that looked like oxycodone but were actually fentanyl, a stronger opioid. A medical examiner and several toxicologists testified that it was the fentanyl in Skaggs’ system that led to his death.
While Kay’s attorneys stipulated their client’s addiction to opioids and admitted that he once lied about seeing Skaggs the night he died, their defense focused on the inability to know for sure if the drugs provided by Kay led to Skaggs’ death. like Skaggs’ chain of custody phone. They believed that the messages on Skaggs’ phone had been deleted by members of Skaggs’ family before the phone could be inspected by authorities and that those messages could have potentially incriminated someone else.
“This case has been reversed,” said Michael Molfetta, an attorney for Kay. “They said, ‘Eric is the guy, and we’re going to get him. “”
Kay chose not to testify.
Thursday’s closing arguments concluded with both sides acknowledging the tragedy of Skaggs’ death, while disagreeing over responsibility for it. Prosecutors said the case involved “one person,” namely Kay, and that it was Kay’s actions that caused Skaggs’ death. Kay’s attorneys argued that Skaggs obtained drugs from other sources and that while he did not deserve to die, he was solely responsible for his own death.
Marina Trahan Martinez reported from Fort Worth and Benjamin Hoffman from Connecticut.