After less than three hours of deliberation on Thursday morning, former Angels communications director Eric Kay was found guilty by a Texas jury of distributing the opioids that led to the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs in 2019.
BREAKING: Jury finds Eric Kay GUILTY for distributing fentanyl and causing the death of Tyler Skaggs.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) February 17, 2022
Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas on July 1, 2019 after the team arrived there prior to a series against the Texas Rangers. Kay was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 15 of that year. After numerous different delays, his trial finally began nine days ago on February 8.
After seven days of testimony that, among other things, revealed that Kay gave opioids to numerous other Angels players during his time with the club, the 12-person jury ruled that Kay distributed counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl to Skaggs and that the drugs led to his death beyond a reasonable doubt. They also ruled that it was more likely than not that the transaction took place in the state of Texas, something that the prosecution also had to prove in order to secure a guilty verdict.
Kay’s sentencing will take place on June 28, where he will face a minimum of 20 years in prison and a $1 million dollar fine.
Sentencing set for June 28. Kay is being taken into custody. His family stunned silence. Tyler Skaggs' wife Carli and mother Debbie Hetman crying and hugging each other.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) February 17, 2022
On behalf of the entire Angels organization, we are saddened by the devastating heartache that surrounds this tragedy, especially for the Skaggs family. Our compassion goes out to all families and individuals that have been impacted.
The players’ testimony was incredibly difficult for our organization to hear, and it is a reminder that too often drug use and addiction are hidden away. From the moment we learned of Tyler’s death, our focus has been to fully understand the circumstances that led to this tragedy.
We are thankful that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have taken the important step to update their drug policies for players using opioids so that they can receive help.
Here is the statement from the Skaggs family:
“We are grateful to the government and the jury for seeing this important case through to the right verdict. Tyler was the light of our family. He is gone, and nothing can ever bring him back. We are relieved that justice was served, although today is a painful reminder of the worst day in the life of our family.”
A statement from Rusty Hardin, the Skaggs family’s attorney:
The trial showed Eric Kay’s drug trafficking was known to numerous people in the Angels organization, and it resulted in the tragic and unnecessary death of one of their most popular players. We have no doubt that the Angels knew what Eric Kay was doing, and the team is morally and legally responsible for his conduct. In the upcoming civil cases, we are looking forward to holding the team accountable. While this verdict is the beginning of seeing justice served, it is a painful reminder of a very sad say in the life of Tyler’s family. It is obviously a bad day for the Angels, who have given a black eye to our National Pastime. I am confident that Major League Baseball will give this important issue the attention and corrective measures it deserves.