A federal court rejected former Angels communications director Eric Kay’s appeal of his two felony convictions in the death of Tyler Skaggs in a terse four-page ruling that upheld Kay’s guilt for providing fentanyl-laced oxycodone that killed Angels pitcher in 2019.
Kay was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in October 2022. Skaggs died in his Southlake, Texas hotel room on July 1, 2019, after the 27-year-old took the medication Kay had given him provided. The Angels were scheduled to open a series against the Texas Rangers the next day.
Kay’s appeal argued that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a conviction or to demonstrate that the proper venue for trial was Texas. Kay also challenged the validity of statements made by the prosecutor during his closing arguments.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the convictions Wednesday, writing in its decision that the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that Kay met with her supplier in California and obtained the pills after Skaggs asked her, that Kay met her supplier in California and obtained the pills after Skaggs asked her. gave the pills to Skaggs in Texas, and that Skaggs died after ingesting one of the contaminated pills. Two doctors testified at Kay’s trial that fentanyl was the cause of Skaggs’ death.
The court also rejected Kay’s claim that the prosecutor made inappropriate remarks during closing arguments by misrepresenting evidence, vouching for the credibility of government witnesses and personally attacking the defense.
“The prosecutor did not attack the defense lawyer personally,” the court said. “The disputed remark instead focused the jury on the defense’s weaknesses and highlighted Kay’s failure to refute or undermine the prosecution’s evidence.
“Finally, even if a remark could be interpreted as an assurance by the prosecutor of the credibility of the baseball players who testified that Kay sold them oxycodone, Kay does not deny that he did in fact distribute drugs to these players.”
Former Angels players Matt Harvey, CJ Cron, Mike Morin and Cameron Bedrosian testified at trial that Kay handed them 30-milligram oxycodone pills nicknamed “blue boys” at Angel Stadium.
At Kay’s sentencing hearing a year ago, U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means said he “dreaded this day” because he felt the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years that Kay faced was excessive. But the judge added two years to the total because of derogatory phone calls and emails from Kay that authorities intercepted after his February 2022 conviction.
Kay insulted Skaggs in a recorded jail call, telling his mother, “I hope people realize what a piece of shit he is.” Well, he’s dead, so go ahead. He suggested his mother spread negative stories about the Skaggs family in the media and called the family “white trash.”
“All they see are dollar signs,” he said of the Skaggs family. “They could make more money from his death than if he played because he sucked.”
Kay also humiliated the jurors who convicted him, calling them “fat, sloppy, toothless and unemployed.”
Kay, 49, is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. He is expected to be released in 2041.
Skaggs’ widow and parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Angels, claiming the team knew or should have known enough about Skaggs’ drug use to prevent his death. A trial originally scheduled for October was postponed due to pretrial motions regarding evidence.
Los Angeles Times