Eric Kay Trial: Matt Harvey Says He got Pills From Angels Employee

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FORT WORTH — Pills passed between players and team employees. Teammates did anything they could to work through injuries and keep themselves on the field. On the sixth day of the trial of Eric Kay, a former Angels employee, over his role in the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, Matt Harvey and three other former Angels players took the stand and said they had received oxycodone from Kay.

The eventful day, in which four former players, a toxicologist, an expert in drug diversion and Skaggs’s wife, Carli, all testified, ended with the prosecution resting its case. Kay’s lawyers will begin his defense on Wednesday.

Kay, a former communications director for the Angels, is accused of providing Tyler Skaggs with fentanyl, an opioid that led to the pitcher’s death in a hotel room in the Dallas area in 2019, two weeks shy of Skaggs’s 28th birthday.

Prosecutors have argued that Skaggs’s death came as a result of a pill or pills he received from Kay that were disguised to look like oxycodone but that were actually fentanyl, a far stronger opioid. A medical examiner testified earlier in the trial that fentanyl was the most likely cause of Skaggs’s death, and that belief was echoed on Tuesday by Dr. Stacey Hail, an emergency medicine expert and toxicologist.

Harvey, who had a reputation for enjoying the nightlife during his time as a pitcher for the Mets, provided testimony on Tuesday in exchange for immunity from prosecution. In a rare glimpse into drug use among Major League Baseball players, Harvey discussed how cocaine had been his drug of choice during his time in New York and said he began using Percocet, an opioid, during the 2019 season. He said he shared some Percocet with Skaggs.

Kay’s lawyers asked Harvey if he had ever asked Skaggs to be careful with his drug use.

“Looking back, I wish I had,” Harvey said. “In baseball, you do everything you can to stay on the field. At the time, I felt as a teammate I was just helping him get through whatever he needed to get through.”

Federal prosecutors are trying to build a case that establishes that Kay was the only one who could have provided the drugs that led to Skaggs’s death. The defense has countered that Skaggs had multiple sources for drugs, including Harvey, and that Kay did not provide any drugs during the trip to Texas.

If convicted ​​on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in death and serious bodily injury, Kay could face decades in prison.

In his testimony on Tuesday, Harvey said he did not make the trip to Texas in 2019 because of injuries. In the lead-up to the trip, he said he had asked Kay about getting some oxycodone, which he said Kay had left in Harvey’s locker — a delivery system that was confirmed by multiple players on Tuesday.

Once Harvey heard about Skaggs’s death, he decided to dispose of the oxycodone.

“I got to the stadium and threw it away,” he said. “I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that anymore.”

Credit…Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Harvey said he was scared and worried that Skaggs’s death could have been caused by the pills. He flew to Texas to be with his teammates as they mourned Skaggs.

“I felt terrible,” he said. “He was a teammate. He was a friend. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to be with the team.”

After Harvey testified, three other former Angels players — C.J. Cron, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin — took the stand, with each describing his relationship with Kay and Skaggs. All three men said they had received pills from Kay.

Harvey described problems with some of the pills.

“I broke it in half and took a little piece orally,” he said. “I got shaky and very sweaty. I had a tough time with it.”

Bedrosian, a pitcher who played for the Angels from 2014 to 2020, had similar testimony about pills he said he had received from Kay.

“I remember taking one, and I didn’t feel right,” Bedrosian said. “I ended up giving the rest back to him.”

Morin and Cron, who testified that their lengthy relationships with Kay involved the routine exchange of pills, said they were connected to Kay by Skaggs. And all four of the players who testified said there was a noticeable period in which drugs were hard to come by, which coincided with a period in which Kay was seeking treatment for his own opioid addiction.

On cross-examination of the players, Kay’s lawyers tried to establish that Skaggs could have gotten the drugs from someone else, potentially at Long Beach Airport in California.

Later in the day, Carli Skaggs took the stand and discussed her relationship with her husband. She said she knew her husband lived with almost constant pain, but she said she was unaware that pain had led to opioid abuse. She also testified that her husband’s relationship to Kay was limited to work and that the men were not friends.

Carli Skaggs testified that the last text she got from her husband, which came around midnight, read “miss you babe.”

She became concerned when he did not tell her he was going to bed — a tradition between the two of them — and she began reaching out to him and his teammates. In one of the texts, she warned him that he better not have gotten drunk and fallen asleep without having texted her.

“You have a drinking problem,” she wrote.

When questioned about that exchange by Michael Molfetta, a lawyer for Kay, Skaggs bristled.

“You’re asking me about a text that was sent in anger saying something that wasn’t true,” she said. “My husband wasn’t responding to my texts because he was dead.”

The last witness of the day was Susannah Herkert, a former Drug Enforcement Administration employee and an expert on drug diversion, who offered insight into the claims that the players could have been approached at the airport in Long Beach. She said access at that airport is heavily restricted.

After Herkert’s testimony, the government rested its case.

Marina Trahan Martinez reported from Fort Worth and Benjamin Hoffman from Connecticut.

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