Case of former Angels employee in Skaggs’ death goes to jury

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Federal prosecutors say they’ve proven a former Los Angeles Angels employee was the only person who could have given Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his death , while a defense attorney suggested in closing arguments that the government case against Eric Kay was built on assumptions.

The jury began deliberations Thursday on the eighth day of Kay’s trial in downtown Fort Worth, about 15 miles from where the Angels were supposed to open a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on July 1, 2019, the day Skaggs was found dead in a hotel room in suburban Dallas.

If convicted, Kay faces 20 years to life in prison for drug distribution resulting in death and up to 20 years for drug conspiracy.

Lead prosecutor Lindsey Beran pointed to a whiteboard filled with magnetic tiles used to build the government’s timetable and told the jury he was showing the evidence needed to convict Kay.

“What their lawyers say, the arguments, that’s not evidence,” she said, pointing to the table where Kay sat with her lawyers.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta said the prosecution had not proven that Kay gave Skaggs drugs after the team arrived in Texas on June 30, nor that fentanyl was the sole cause. of Skaggs’ death.

A coroner’s report said Skaggs, 27, choked to death on his vomit and had a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.

Molfetta pointed to the same whiteboard containing text messages between Skaggs and Kay, and departure and arrival times as well as other material for June 30 and July 1.

“Those tiles, those things that they put up there, they don’t prove anything other than what’s on the tiles,” Molfetta said. “There are so many assumptions behind it.”

The testimony included five major league players saying they received oxycodone pills from Kay at some point from 2017 to 2019, the years Kay is accused of obtaining pills and giving them to players. . He also used drugs himself, according to testimony and court documents.

Beran reminded jurors of testimony from major league pitchers Matt Harvey, Cam Bedrosian and Blake Parker saying Skaggs’ death deterred them from using oxycodone, a painkiller Harvey said was commonly used in a league where players are often faced with surgeries and injuries.

“Blake Parker, ‘I had a flashback to 2017 and I thought that could have been me,'” Beran told the jury. “All of these people were one pill away from dying alone in a hotel room from a drug Eric Kay gave them.”

An expert testified for the government that Skaggs died from fentanyl, which is significantly more potent than oxycodone. The defense countered that there was no way to prove fentanyl caused Skaggs’ death.

Kay served as the team’s public relations contact on numerous road trips, and the trip to Texas was her first since returning from rehab. Kay was put on leave shortly after Skaggs’ death and never returned to the team.

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