Former Angels employee Eric Kay does not testify at trial as defense rests its case

Former Los Angeles Angels employee Eric Kay walks out of federal court where he is on trial.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Eric Kay’s defense rested its case in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon without Kay taking the stand to testify.

Kay, the former Angels communication director, has been charged with giving pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his death in his room at the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square on July 1, 2019.

The defense started and rested its case Wednesday by calling six witnesses to testify. Three were former Angels players: Andrelton Simmons, Trevor Cahill and Blake Parker. Kay watched from his seat at the end of a table opposite the witness stand, where he’s been situated for the trial’s first seven days next to his attorney Michael Molfetta.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday morning. Judge Terry R. Means said he will afford 45 minutes each to the prosecution and defense. The prosecution will go first, the defense will follow, and the prosecution will be given a chance for a rebuttal with any of its allotted time remaining before the jury deliberates.

The government has argued Kay was Skaggs’ only drug dealer. The defense has contended Kay and Skaggs were both addicts who bought and used drugs together — and that Skaggs received drugs from other sources.

Kay, 47, faces two felony counts: providing Skaggs counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl that resulted in him choking on his vomit and distributing fentanyl and oxycodone since “beginning in or before 2017.”

He is subject to a minimum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted of supplying Skaggs the counterfeit pills. The government must prove the crime was committed in Texas to the jury of 10 women and two men.

The defense ended its case Wednesday with Parker. The former Angels pitcher testified to buying 10 oxycodone pills from Kay. He said he tried half of one pill, didn’t like how it made him feel, and returned the remaining pills to Kay.

Parker was the fifth former Angels player to testify to receiving oxycodone pills from Kay. He said he couldn’t say with certainty that Skaggs was the person who directed him to Kay for pills. Parker said Skaggs “might have.”

Parker testified to remembering a conversation with Kay in 2018 in which Kay said he wanted to stop using pills because he didn’t want be involved with the people who sold him drugs.

Molfetta asked Parker if he recalled Kay saying that it was difficult to quit using because players kept asking him for drugs.

“That’s the first I heard of that,” Parker said.

Parker said he remembered thinking he didn’t want to put Kay in the position of giving him drugs again.

The other four former Angels players — Matt Harvey, Mike Morin, Cam Bedrosian, and C.J. Cron — testified Tuesday to being connected to Kay for drugs through Skaggs. Evidence presented by the government Monday showed a sixth former Angel, pitcher Garrett Richards, sent Kay $1,700 in three Venmo transactions over a year-long period, but the reason for the transfers wasn’t revealed.

Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs watches from the bench during a game in May 2019.
Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs watches from the bench during a game in May 2019. (Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Morin, Bedrosian and Cron said Kay was their only source for pills. Harvey said he also received pills from a friend in Rhode Island in 2019.

The defense’s first witness was Garet Ramos, Skaggs’ stepbrother. Molfetta focused on Ramos’ recollection of two incidents: Skaggs’ admission to his family of a Percocet dependence in 2013 and the chain of custody of Skaggs’ phone the day he died.

Molfetta asked Ramos if he knew Skaggs was addicted to Percocet in 2013. Ramos said Skaggs didn’t describe his issue as an addiction. Skaggs’ mother, Debbie Hetman, described it as an “issue” in her testimony last week.

Molfetta then presented Ramos with a document with his grand jury testimony to refresh his memory of what he had previously testified. Ramos later explained during cross-examination that he suffers from progressive multiple sclerosis, which he said severely hinders his memory.

Molfetta then asked Ramos if he helped Skaggs “wean off” Percocet by giving him “Oxycontin” pills — the first mention of Skaggs using Oxycontin, not oxycodone, pills in the trial. Oxycontin is the brand name for a controlled-release version of oxycodone.

Molfetta repeatedly asked if Ramos remembered if the pills were “blue circular pills.” Ramos answered he couldn’t “definitively say I remember that.”

Molfetta then pivoted to asking Ramos if he deleted messages from Skaggs’ phone when the family went to the Southlake Police Dept.'s headquarters to retrieve his items on July 1. Ramos said Skaggs’ mother — his stepmother — asked him to change the passcode. He said he complied and “gave it right back” without deleting anything.

The defense has said Chris Leanos, an admitted drug dealer and Skaggs’ friend since 2009, asked Ramos to delete a text message. Leanos testified Monday that Skaggs texted him a week or two before he died asking if he knew anyone who could provide him oxycodone pills. Leanos said he told Skaggs “not to mess with them” because the pills could contain fentanyl.

The defense called Simmons and Cahill to rehash the possibility that Skaggs went out after the Angels checked into the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square on the night of June 30. Skaggs, 27, was found dead in his hotel room the next afternoon. His phone was found not to have any outgoing data after he sent a text to his wife, Carli, at 12:02 a.m. CDT.

Carli Skaggs, the wife of Tyler Skaggs, walks out of a federal court building after testifying in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
Carli Skaggs, the wife of Tyler Skaggs, walks out of a federal court building after testifying in Fort Worth on Tuesday. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

Carli Skaggs observed Wednesday's proceedings from the gallery next to Hetman after testifying Tuesday that she didn’t know her husband used drugs. On cross-examination, Molfetta asked her about two texts she sent to her husband after he hadn’t replied to previous texts the night he died.

One referred to not getting drunk and falling asleep without texting her. When Skaggs didn’t respond, she wrote, “You have a drinking problem. I’m about to tell Tom Taylor.” Taylor is the Angels’ traveling secretary. Skaggs confirmed she sent those texts.

"You're asking about a text that I sent out of anger, saying something that wasn't true,” Skaggs said, “that my husband couldn't respond to because he was dead.”

Simmons and Cahill testified they saw and spoke with Skaggs when the team checked into the hotel. Both players said Skaggs didn’t appear drunk, though Cahill said, “he probably couldn’t drive.” Cahill explained players drank Coors Light on the team flight. “Nothing crazy,” he said.

Simmons said Skaggs either told him or he overheard Skaggs telling someone that he was considering going out that night. Simmons said he got the impression that Skaggs didn’t want to go out anymore.

Cahill said Skaggs asked him if he should go out that night. Cahill said he suggested he should not, that it was better to get some rest. He said he didn’t see Skaggs again. Asked if he knew Skaggs used drugs, Cahill said he didn’t.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.