Former Los Angeles Angels employee Eric Kay was found guilty in the death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs and sentenced to 22 years in prison, according to reports. Kay was arrested in 2020 after it was alleged he had given pills laced with fentanyl to Skaggs. Those pills led to Skaggs’ death in a hotel room in suburban Dallas.
“We are very grateful to everyone who worked so hard to investigate and prosecute Eric Kay,” the Skaggs family said in a statement. “Today’s sentencing isn’t about the number of years the defendant received. The real issue in this case is holding accountable the people who are distributing the deadly drug fentanyl.”
Kay was convicted in February on one count of conspiracy to possess fentanyl with the intent to distribute and one count of distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. During the trial the federal prosecutors showed the jury in the Texas courtroom text message conversations between Kay and Skaggs from the night of the pitcher’s overdose that clearly showed that the two men were talking about drugs.
In the time since his conviction Kay made derogatory comments about Skaggs, his family, prosecutors and jurors in phone calls and emails that were presented to U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means.
Due to the nature of the crime Kay committed and the involved substance, fentanyl, he was facing a minimum of 20 years. Means added two additional years because of what Kay said about the Skaggs family.
Kay said of the Skaggs family during a recorded call from prison, “All they see are dollar signs. They may get more money with him dead than [when] he was playing because he sucked.”
“I’m here because of Tyler Skaggs. Well, he’s dead. So f— him.”
During the sentencing Kay couldn’t provide any reasons for why he said what he said, only that he was “mad at the world.”
Judge Means didn’t buying the excuse.
“[You] showed a callousness and refusal to accept responsibility and even be remorseful for something that you caused. Tyler Skaggs wasn’t a perfect person,” the judge said. “But he paid the ultimate price for it.”
Skaggs, 27, was found dead July 1, 2019, after the team had traveled from Los Angeles and before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. A coroner’s report indicated Skaggs had choked to death on his vomit, and a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone was in his system.
In the trial it was concluded that Kay gave Skaggs counterfeit oxycodone pills that contained fentanyl.
No matter how many years Kay received it doesn’t change the fact that Skaggs is dead and his family will still have to deal with that tragedy.
“Not only am I grieving the loss of my husband,” widow Carli Skaggs said. “I’m grieving the loss of myself.
The drug use that took place within the Angels organization among some players is likely not an isolated incident. Major League Baseball should be proactive and instituting different treatment measures, less punitive and more preventative measures, and ways to identify the signs of drug abuse and offer help, etc.