Trial set for ex-Angels employee over role in Skaggs’ death

Feb 6, 2022, 11:57 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2022, 1:58 pm
FILE - Los Angeles Angels starter Tyler Skaggs pitches to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first ...

FILE - Los Angeles Angels starter Tyler Skaggs pitches to a Tampa Bay Rays batter during the first inning of a baseball game July 31, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Five major league pitchers are on the government's witness list for the trial of a former Angels employee accused of providing Skaggs with the drugs that caused his overdose death. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius, File)

(AP Photo/Steve Nesius, File)

A former Los Angeles Angels employee accused of providing Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs with the drugs that caused his overdose death is set to go on trial in Texas, where Skaggs died in 2019.

Eric Prescott Kay faces charges of drug distribution and drug conspiracy in Skaggs’ death. Jury selection is scheduled to start Tuesday in a trial that has been postponed several times.

Federal prosecutors allege in court documents that Kay obtained oxycodone pills from various sources and distributed them to Skaggs and others from at least 2017 to 2019. Prosecutors say Kay also used the pills himself.

Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his suburban Dallas hotel room on July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed.

A coroner’s report said Skaggs had choked to death on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the drugs fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, which Kay is accused of providing.

Kay was the Angels’ director of communications, and he served as their public relations contact on many road trips. He was placed on leave shortly after Skaggs’ death, and never returned to the team.

Team officials have said they had not been aware that Skaggs was an opioids user and didn’t know any employees were providing drugs to players.

Five major league pitchers and former Angels infielder C.J. Cron are on the government’s witness list. Most would testify that Kay provided drugs to Skaggs and others, according to court records.

Boston’s Garrett Richards, who spent his first eight big league seasons with the Angels, would testify that Kay once asked him for unused oxycodone pills, according to prosecutors, who declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

Attorneys for Kay didn’t return messages seeking comment. Kay has been free on his own recognizance.

Prosecutors allege Kay provided Skaggs counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl the day before Skaggs was found dead.

Kay obtained oxycodone pills through various sources and at times had them delivered to the Angels’ home stadium, where Kay’s office was located, prosecutors say in court documents. Residue that was confirmed to be oxycodone and fentanyl was found in his desk at work, the documents say.

Andrew Heaney of the New York Yankees, one of Skaggs’ closest friends when they were teammates, is on the witness list along with three other former Angels in Cam Bedrosian, Matt Harvey and Blake Parker.

The government’s filing said Heaney would testify about his attempts to reach Skaggs the day he was found dead and interactions between Kay and Skaggs.

According to court filings, Kay spent about a month in drug rehab over oxycodone use starting in April 2019, a little more than two months before Skaggs died. Kay was on that trip to Texas.

“The evidence that Kay was a drug user is relevant to showing Kay’s motive and opportunity to obtain oxycodone pills,” prosecutors wrote in one of their filings.

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Trial set for ex-Angels employee over role in Skaggs’ death