Another Angels employee connected Eric Kay with drug dealer in Tyler Skaggs case, prosecutors argue

Tyler Skaggs pitches for the Angels against the Oakland Athletics on June 29, 2019.
Tyler Skaggs pitches for the Angels against the Oakland Athletics on June 29, 2019. He died of an overdose
in a suburban Dallas hotel room on July 1 of that year.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Prosecutors on Friday argued that another Angels employee connected Eric Kay with the person who supplied the drugs that led to Tyler Skaggs’ death in July 2019.

FBI special agent Mark Sedwick, a government witness, testified Friday that Kay, a former Angels communication director, called Hector Vazquez, then an Angels clubhouse attendant, two minutes before Kay sent a text message to a phone registered to a person who prosecutors say went by the pseudonym Ashley Smith for the first time on June 19, 2019.

The prosecution, using Sedwick’s testimony, painted Smith to the jury as a drug dealer who used burner phones and an alias to avoid detection, and sold pills to Kay in California hours before Skaggs was found dead in a suburban Dallas hotel room.


The defense, in turn, challenged the notion that the available phone data were enough to propose that Kay acquired drugs from Smith. Sedwick testified that he could only identify Kay and Smith’s phones being in the same area once during that period — on June 28, two days before prosecutors have argued the drug deal occurred and the Angels flew to Texas.

The Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant at Vazquez’s home in Corona in August 2020, according to law enforcement records. Vazquez no longer works for the team. Prosecutors haven’t provided any further information about Smith, including her real name.

Eric Kay’s defense tried to poke holes in the prosecution’s argument fentanyl was the sole cause of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs’ death during a trial Thursday.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s autopsy determined Skaggs had fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system before he choked on his own vomit in Room 469 of the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square on July 1. The death was ruled accidental.

Kay was charged with two felony counts — providing Skaggs counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl that led to his death and distributing fentanyl and oxycodone since at least 2017. Kay, 47, has pleaded not guilty. He faces a 20-year minimum sentence if found guilty of providing Skaggs the drugs that resulted in his death.

Sedwick, whose experience since joining the FBI 1998 includes working illegal narcotics cases and cellphone analysis, took the stand Friday afternoon. He had been asked by the government to review the phone records of Kay, Smith and Vazquez for location, data and call records beginning on June 19, 2019.

Sedwick said he didn’t have access to content on any communications — he didn’t know what was said in texts or phone calls — and the available cellphone tower data couldn’t specify exact locations.

In her opening statement Tuesday, U.S. assistant attorney Lindsey Beran argued Kay and Smith had never communicated before Kay’s text to Smith.

Debbie Hetman testified that her son Tyler Skaggs said he had a problem with Percocet six years before his death. She said Skaggs quit the drug “cold turkey.”

Sedwick testified the records show that Kay and Smith, after the initial communication June 19, were in touch the next day but not again until June 26. Three days later, Sedwick said, Kay and Smith exchanged 30 texts and a phone call.

On the morning of June 30, according to Sedwick, Smith and Kay had a 37-second phone call. Sedwick said Kay then texted Skaggs at 12:35 p.m., less than four hours before the Angels were scheduled to play the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium, with a question: “Hoe [sic] many?”

“Just a few. Like 5,” Skaggs replied.

“Word,” Kay responded.

“Don’t need many,” Skaggs wrote.

“K,” Kay replied.

At 2:18 p.m., according to Sedwick, Kay initiated a series of text messages with Smith. A total of 14 texts were exchanged over about two hours.

On Tuesday, Beran argued the “bursts of communication” were consistent with a “drug deal.” On Friday, fellow assistant U.S. attorney Errin Martin asked Sedwick whether the flurry could signal a transaction. Sedwick said yes.

Angels communications director Eric Kay’s defense argued pitcher Tyler Skaggs got drugs from other sources and helped Kay become an addict.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta during cross-examination questioned the government’s argument that Kay and Smith executed a drug deal June 30.

Molfetta asked Sedwick whether he knew the content of the calls or texts. Sedwick said no.

He asked Sedwick whether Kay and Smith, based on the cellphone tower information, were “close at all” on June 30. Sedwick said they weren’t. Based on the information, Sedwick testified, Smith was in Garden Grove and Kay was a few miles away at Angel Stadium before leaving with the team to the Long Beach Airport to fly to Texas.

Hours later, evidence shows, Skaggs texted Kay, inviting him to his room. According to his defense, Kay found Skaggs with three lines of drugs on his desk. The defense said Kay, a drug addict who checked himself into rehab three months earlier, declined to take drugs when Skaggs offered and left within a few minutes because he felt “uncomfortable.” His defense said Skaggs “wasn’t under medical duress.”

At 12:02 p.m. Central Daylight Time, Skaggs sent his wife, Carli, a text message that read, “Miss you babe.” It was the last text he sent.

The next afternoon, just after 2 p.m., former Angels security official Chuck Knight discovered Skaggs’ lifeless body on his bed. A pool of blood and vomit had settled under his discolored face.

Shortly after Skaggs’ body was found, Sedwick testified, records show that Smith called a T-Mobile customer service number at 5:10 p.m. A text was sent from the phone number two minutes later. Outgoing data from the phone number ceased thereafter.

“It’s common if you think the phone is burned or hot,” Sedwick said.

Less than two hours later, Sedwick said, another phone number registered to Smith sent a text message to Kay at 7:05 p.m. and a text to Vazquez 30 seconds later. Kay and Smith, according to Sedwick, then exchanged two text messages and never again communicated on the phones while contact between Smith and Vazquez’s phone numbers continued.

The trial will continue Monday morning. Several former Angels players, including Matt Harvey, who on Tuesday was accused by the defense of giving Percocet to Skaggs, could testify next week.