Wednesday’s defense attorneys retreated without hearing from a former employee of the Los Angeles Angels, who was accused of giving the drugs that caused Tyler Skaggs’ death.
The defense presented a brief, uneventful argument one day after federal prosecutors had concluded their case. They were captivated by the testimony of four Major League players who admitted to past drug use and claimed that they received oxycodone from Eric Kay.
Kay is facing drug distribution and conspiracy charges. According to testimony, Kay obtained oxycodone for players and was a user. Pitcher Blake Parker was the defense’s last witness to testify that Kay gave him opioids in 2018. This was the last year Parker played for Angels.
The eighth day of Kay’s trial in downtown Fort Worth is over. Closing arguments will be heard on Thursday. The federal court is located about 15 miles away from the location where the Angels were to play Texas Rangers. Skaggs was killed in his suburban Dallas hotel room. He was 27.
According to a coroner’s report, Skaggs died from a chokehold caused by his vomit. He also had a toxic mixture of alcohol, fentanyl, and oxycodone in his system.
Prosecutors claimed Kay was the only person who could have supplied the drugs that caused Skaggs’ death. The drugs were also delivered to Skaggs after they arrived in Texas. A government expert said that Skaggs died from fentanyl. This drug is much more potent than Oxycodone.
Skaggs was able to find multiple suppliers and Kay did not give Skaggs drugs upon arrival in Texas. The defense also argued that it is impossible to prove that fentanyl caused Skaggs’ death.
Kay could face a minimum sentence in prison of 20 years and a maximum sentence in prison of life for the distribution charge leading to death. Maximum sentence for the conspiracy count is 20 years.
Parker was emotional when taking the stand for the first time. He said that Skaggs was a friend of his and that Kay was a good man. Parker stated that he stopped asking Kay for pills after Kay told him he was trying quit taking oxycodone.
Kay was the team’s public relation contact on numerous road trips. The Texas trip was Kay’s first since he returned from rehabilitation. Kay was put on leave soon after Skaggs’s death, and never returned to work.
Infielder Andrelton Simmons, and pitcher Trevor Cahill were also former Angels players who testified that Skaggs was at the hotel on the night he was found dead. Both claimed Skaggs had spoken of the possibility of going out, but that he didn’t leave the hotel.
Garet Ramos was Skaggs stepbrother. He was asked by defense if he deleted any text messages from Skaggs phone after it was handed to him by Southlake police, where Skaggs was killed. Ramos said he didn’t.
According to the defense, Ramos deleted a message at Chris Leanos’ request. Chris Leanos was a friend of Skaggs and testified that Ramos was a drug dealer. Leanos claimed that he received a message from Skaggs asking for oxycodone a week before the pitcher’s death. Leanos denied the request and said that he had warned Skaggs about the dangers of taking those pills.
Ramos stated that he could not recall specifics about how he helped Skaggs wean him off Percocet in 2013, a combination of oxycodone, acetaminophen. Debbie Hetman, Skaggs’ mom, testified that her son had an issue in 2013 with Percocet and that he quit “cold turkey”.