Former Angels pitcher Matt Harvey will be called to testify in the trial of Eric Kay on Tuesday morning, attorneys for the federal government said Monday.
Harvey spent most of the 2019 season with the Angels. His suspected drug use surfaced at various points through the trial’s first five days as the government attempts to prove to the jury that Kay, a former Angels communications director, gave Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his death on the night of July 1, 2019 — and that Kay provided them in Texas, not in California.
The scope of possible drug activity in the Angels organization around Skaggs’ death broadened again Monday when a retired Drug Enforcement Administration special agent testified that former Angels pitcher Garrett Richards sent Kay $1,700 on Venmo across three transactions between Nov. 2016 and Nov. 2017.
Michael Ferry said he did not know why Richards sent Kay the money. He testified that Richards added the caption “delish” for a transfer for $750 on Nov. 29, 2017. Ferry said Skaggs also sent Kay hundreds of dollars on Venmo in transactions between Oct. 2016 and May 2018. Ferry said Skaggs added a heart emoji as a caption for a $150 transaction on May 18, 2018.
Ferry said Kay cashed out every transaction shortly after receiving them.
Richards is the third former Angels player or employee not named Kay or Skaggs to be introduced in the trial as a drug user or distributor.
On Friday, prosecutors suggested Hector Vazquez, a former Angels clubhouse attendant, connected Kay with the person who supplied the drugs that resulted in Skaggs’ death.
Last week, during its opening statement, the defense said Harvey provided Skaggs with drugs.
Defense attorney Reagan Wynn said Kay recalled seeing three lines of crushed drugs on the desk of Skaggs’ hotel room at the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square the night he died. Two lines were blue. One line was pink. Wynn, according to Kay, said Kay didn’t recognize the pink drug and asked Skaggs about it. Skaggs, according to Kay, said it was Percocet from Harvey.
Skaggs’ mother last Wednesday testified that her son admitted having a Percocet “issue” to the family after the 2013 season. She said he then quit “cold turkey.”
An autopsy didn’t find Percocet in Skaggs’ system when he died. The Tarrant Medical Examiner’s Office determined Skaggs choked on his own vomit after ingesting fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol. Percocet, an opioid, is a mixture of oxycodone and acetaminophen.
On Monday, Ferry testified he found texts from Skaggs to Harvey months prior to his death asking for drugs to get “loosey goosey.” The Angels released Harvey three weeks after Skaggs died. He is a free agent after pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 2021.
Earlier in the day, an admitted drug dealer given immunity to testify said Skaggs asked him where he could find oxycodone pills “a week or two” before he died.
Chris Leanos, who said he and Skaggs became good friends in 2009, testified that he warned Skaggs about the dangers of fentanyl-laced pills and didn’t give Skaggs drugs. Leanos said Garet Ramos, Skaggs’ stepbrother, told him to delete the texts about a week after Skaggs died and he deleted them because he “didn’t want to get involved.”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Michael Molfetta pressed Leanos on why Skaggs would ask him for oxycodone if Leanos testified to not selling oxycodone. Leanos said “probably because” he brought a gram of the psychedelic MDMA and 2 grams of cocaine to Skaggs’ bachelor party in Las Vegas years earlier.
Leanos said he saw Kay three times “in passing” before Monday’s court session, including at a charity event at Disneyland where he said he recalled an “odd exchange” between Kay and Skaggs. Leanos said Skaggs then went to a bathroom and told him to make sure nobody entered. Leanos said he believes Kay gave Skaggs drugs and Skaggs consumed them in the bathroom.
Molfetta asked Leanos if he had proof that Kay gave Skaggs drugs. Leanos said it was a “hunch.”
Adam Chodzko, who replaced Kay as the Angels’ communications director, testified Monday he noticed Kay being “erratic” in mid-July during the Angels’ first homestand following Skaggs’ death. One day that week, Chodzko said, Kay was opening and closing the door in his office and singing and talking to himself.
Chodzko said that when Kay went downstairs to the clubhouse his hair was disheveled and he was sweating through his shirt. Chodzko said he suggested Kay go home and drove him.
During the drive, Chodzko said, an intoxicated Kay admitted going to Skaggs’ hotel room the night he died after lying to investigators in Texas. According to Chodzko, Kay said Skaggs offered him drugs that night and Kay declined because he was sober, and he was on medications that would minimize the drugs’ effects.
Kay said he took a beer instead and left shortly after. The next afternoon Skaggs was discovered lifeless on the room’s bed, facedown and shirtless with a pool of blood and vomit under his mouth.
Prosecutors, based on key log information, allege Kay didn’t use a key card for his hotel room again until approximately 8:25 a.m. on July 1. Mike Hutchinson, the hotel’s general manager, testified Monday the hotel didn’t have internal cameras, which could have verified Kay’s whereabouts.
Chodzko said he immediately told Angels traveling secretary Tom Taylor about Kay’s revelation when he returned to Angel Stadium. Chodzko said Taylor suggested he call Tim Mead, the former head of the Angels’ communications department who had become president of the Baseball Hall of Fame in April 2019. Mead is on the government’s proposed witness list.
Chodzko said he went to Kay’s house the next day with Taylor with an ultimatum: Either you tell John Carpino, the president of the Angels, or I will. Chodzko said Kay declined to call Carpino so he stepped outside and made the call. Chodzko said Kay yelled at him, saying he shared what happened “in confidence.” Chodzko said he and Taylor then dropped Kay off at a rehabilitation facility. He said Monday was the first time he saw Kay since that day.
Monday ended with the prosecutor calling a cardiologist, paid $500 per hour by the government for his services, to the stand. The doctor testified for 20 minutes and said Skaggs didn’t die because of a heart issue — a possibility not previously mentioned by any party.
After the jury exited, Judge Terry R. Means chided the prosecution for bringing in a witness he believed didn’t carry any value.
“Are you going to bring in another doctor to say he didn’t die of cancer?” Means asked. “And then a nephrologist to say it wasn’t his kidneys?”