Eric Kay Found Guilty for His Role in Death of Tyler Skaggs
The trial, which played out over two weeks, explored drug use among Major League Baseball players, several of whom, when testifying, admitted to acquiring opioids through Kay. Matt Harvey, a former pitcher for the Mets who was a teammate of Skaggs’s with the Angels in 2019, discussed his own cocaine use, as well as his use of opioids. He and others portrayed Kay as a team employee who was known for being able to get players the drugs they sought, even as he dealt with his own addiction to pills.
In a statement from the Angels, John Carpino, the team’s president, said the team is thankful that M.L.B. has updated its drug policies in the wake of Skaggs’s death.
“The players’ testimony was incredibly difficult for our organization to hear,” Carpino said, “and it is a reminder that too often drug use and addiction are hidden away.”
While Harvey, 32, who admitted to sharing opioids with Skaggs, was given immunity in exchange for his testimony, he could still face discipline from M.L.B. He is a free agent after spending the 2021 season with the Baltimore Orioles.
Skaggs, who, multiple witnesses testified, had an addiction to the opioid Percocet earlier in his career, was said to have sent teammates to Kay over the years so Kay could acquire drugs for them. Federal prosecutors said Skaggs’s death came as a result of pills provided to him by Kay that looked like oxycodone but were actually fentanyl, a more powerful opioid. A medical examiner and several toxicologists testified that it was the fentanyl in Skaggs’s system that led to his death.
While Kay’s lawyers stipulated their client’s addiction to opioids, and admitted he had previously lied about whether he had seen Skaggs on the night he died, their defense focused on the inability to know for certain if drugs provided by Kay led to Skaggs’s death, as well as the chain of custody of Skaggs’s phone. They believed that messages on Skaggs’s phone were deleted by members of Skaggs’s family before the phone could be inspected by authorities and that those messages could potentially have incriminated someone else.
“This case was reverse engineered,” said Michael Molfetta, a lawyer for Kay. “They said, ‘Eric is the guy, and we’re going to get him.’”