The trial of former Los Angeles Angels employee Eric Kay, who is charged in connection to pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death in 2019, began on Tuesday in Fort Worth, Texas, with testimony from Andrew Heaney and a defense claim regarding Matt Harvey.
Kay was the team’s communication director when Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, in July 2019. Federal prosecutors say Kay was running a drug distribution operation that supplied illegal narcotics to several MLB players, including ones to Skaggs that resulted in his death.
He faces two felony counts of distributing a controlled substance and distribution of a controlled substance and has pleaded not guilty. A jury was selected Tuesday morning after multiple delays, and a large number of current and former Angels players and personnel are slated to take the stand as witnesses for the prosecution.
Harvey, Heaney involved in Day 1 of trial
Harvey, the former New York Mets sensation who spent the 2019 season with the Angels, was named by the defense on the first day of the trial.
The defense attorney said during opening statements that Harvey will be named as “a possible drug source” for Skaggs, per T.J. Quinn at ESPN. The defense claims that Skaggs told Kay he received “pink pills” identified as Percocets from Harvey and that Kay saw Skaggs snort them the night of his death, Sam Blum of The Athletic reported.
The prosecution said in opening statements Kay was providing opioids to multiple players “and even got them from the umpire’s clubhouse attendant at the ballpark,” Quinn reported. The prosecution also said an unnamed player will testify he gave Skaggs the pink pills, but not for the road trip on which Skaggs died. The prosecution is alleging only Kay could have given Skaggs the fatal drugs.
Skaggs died from “mixed ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication” that led to him choking on his own vomit, according to a Tarrant County medical examiner’s toxicology report in August 2019. There was no Percocet in Skaggs’ system when he died, per ESPN’s Quinn.
Heaney, an Angels pitcher from 2015 until being traded to the New York Yankees in 2021, was the first to testify and will continue Wednesday morning during cross-examination. The witness list includes C.J. Cron, Cam Bedrosian, Mike Morin, Blake Parker, Garrett Richards and team and clubhouse personnel. Prosecutors said in an August 2021 filing “approximately” five MLB players will testify that Kay provided them oxycodone.