Former Angels employee Eric Kay sentenced to 22 years in Taylor Skaggs case

FORT WORTH — Former Los Angeles Angels communications director Eric Kay was arrested Tuesday after being convicted in February of supplying the drugs that killed 2019 pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Sentenced to 22 years in prison.

District Judge Terry Means said he surpassed the minimum 20 years Kay faced because of his remarks in prison.

Prosecutors, who played a recording of a prison phone conversation in which Kay’s calls were monitored and taped, said of Skaggs: “I hope people realize he’s an asshole. … Well, he’s dead, So fuck him.”

Means said he had been terrified of sentencing Kay, 48, because he believed the mandatory minimum was “excessive”. But the judge said the prison conversation showed “a refusal to take responsibility and even remorse for what you’ve done”.

In his own remarks, Kay apologized for “spitting” at Skaggs, prosecutors and the jury in that and other prison correspondence.

“I want to blame Taylor for all this,” Kay said, calling his words “very wrong and foul.”

The emotional sentencing hearing marked a bleak end to this phase of the legal saga that began when 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in a hotel room in Southlake, Texas, on July 1, 2019, after his death The system contains oxycodone and fentanyl. Kay said he would appeal his conviction.

Kay, like Skaggs, is a user of illicit opioids. During Kay’s trial in February, witnesses, including several MLB players, said he shared black-market painkillers with them, although the government did not suggest he was doing it for profit.

Federal prosecutor Erinn Martin said Kay choked on his own vomit in Skaggs’ hotel room — an argument based on key card evidence — and he didn’t try to save the pitcher because “he freaked out.” , decided to save himself and his work” or because he himself was powerless.

Martin said Tuesday that Kay was aware that the drug he was giving Skaggs “could or could be counterfeit” and likely contained fentanyl.

Kay, who did not defend himself during the trial, did not directly address the government version of the incident on Tuesday, but expressed remorse for his actions, which he blamed on his drug addiction.

“I’ll fix it for the rest of the day,” said Kay, who at times sobbed as he spoke, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles on his arms and legs.

Skaggs’ family, speaking in court on Tuesday, said Kay was responsible for the pitcher’s death.

“Eric Kay knows the drugs he gives my son and other players [were] Contains fentanyl,” said Skaggs’ mother, Debbie, adding, “Severe sentences…have the power to dissuade people from giving the deadly drug to others. “

“I feel strongly that those who risk the lives of others with killer drugs need to be held accountable,” said Skaggs’ widow Carly. My wife got a call from me.”

“I know that no matter how much time Eric Kay gets, it’s not going to bring Taylor back,” Skaggs’ father, Darrell, said in a statement aunt Taylor read in court. “But the longer he’s incarcerated, the safer everyone will be.”

Kay grew up in Southern California and was educated at Pepperdine University before earning a six-figure salary with the Angels and has no prior criminal record. But prosecutor Martin said Kay’s prison correspondence proved he hadn’t learned his lesson.

In emails and phone calls, Kay referred to the “rubbish-ass Skaggs,” mocked the jurors as toothless “hillbillies,” and referred to federal prosecutors’ “horrible makeup.” Martin also noted that Kay was allegedly captured by subboxone in prison.

“That kind of guy does it again,” Martin said. “Eric Kay won’t stop.”

Kay’s attorney, Cody Cofer, said his client’s remarks in prison reflected a man’s dissatisfaction with being separated from his family for 20 years. “The notion that he may reoffend is not supported,” Korver said.

Meaning, Kay should be imprisoned near his California home, where he has three sons, the youngest of whom is 12. Kay’s middle child, Carter, 20, told the sentencing hearing that his father “would do nothing “badly willingly” and urged the judge to be lenient.

“My brother needs him the most,” Carter said. “I haven’t seen him smile for a long time.”

Skaggs’ family has filed a lawsuit against Kay and the Angels, claiming the team “knew or should have known” that Kay was a drug addict and that placing him near the injured athlete created a “perfect storm” that caused the pitcher die.

The family was represented by Texas attorney Rusty Harding.

“Today’s verdict is not about the number of years the defendant has obtained,” a spokesman for the family said after the ruling. “In this case, the real issue is to hold accountable those who distributed the deadly drug fentanyl.”

The Angels deny the allegations in the family lawsuit. “Our sympathies go out to the Skaggs family during this difficult time,” an Angels spokesman said in a statement Tuesday.

Since Kay’s trial, one of his attorneys, Reagan Wynn, has been suspended from practicing law after a team of lawyers in Texas found he “failed to explain” the facts of his criminal case to another client. At a hearing in Kay’s case in May, his other attorney at the time, Michael Molfetta, appeared to accuse Wynn of letting Kay leave without a proxy when he met with probation officials before sentencing.

“I had been part of a probation unit email and I mistakenly — and it was on me — just assumed Reagan was working on it,” Molfetta told the judge. “I’ll text Mr. Wynn and say, ‘Hey, do you have this? “Throughout our agency, he obviously didn’t like texting because he never actually got back to me.”

Molfetta also left the case. In an interview with The Washington Post, Sandy Kay said her son’s legal defense was poor.

“Taylor Skaggs was an adult male who deliberately chose to engage in risky behavior that ultimately resulted in his death,” Sandra Kay said. “It is a great injustice to hold other people accountable for this.”

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