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A federal jury in a trial next month for a former communications director of the Los Angeles Angels, who is accused of drug charges related to the fentanyl overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs in Southlake in 2019, may not get to hear some anticipated evidence in the case, according to a ruling by a judge.
United States District Judge Terry Means granted a motion in limine order last month in the trial of Eric Kay, saying attorneys and witnesses shall not mention or allude to some issues without first approaching the bench and obtaining a ruling from the court outside of the presence of the jury.
Kay’s trial is set for Nov. 8 in Fort Worth.
Federal court documents indicated that some of the issues included:
▪ That Dr. Marc Krouse, former Tarrant County deputy medical examiner, may have made mistakes in other autopsy reports or was referred to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office for investigation.
▪ The sentence that Kay might receive if found guilty, the conditions in prison, the risk of incarceration or the impact any sentence may have upon his family if convicted.
▪ What Kay would testify to or say, unless he waives his Fifth Amendment privilege.
▪ Kay’s prior good acts or his lack of criminal history.
▪ That the government may have violated its discovery.
▪ That Kay is not guilty because the government did not indict others who participated in the alleged conspiracy.
▪ Kay’s alleged use of marijuana or other controlled substances other than the drug use that led to the specific event in this case.
Krouse was originally suspended from performing autopsies in homicide cases in November 2020 after an internal audit of his autopsies found dozens of errors in 27 cases. He was placed on administrative leave in March and left his job in April.
Kay was indicted by a North Texas federal grand jury in October 2020 on the federal drug charges linked to Skaggs’ death.
His trial has been delayed three times in a case where prosecutors are set to call a host of chemists, toxicologists, a drug recognition expert, a drug distribution expert, a cell phone analysis expert and medical experts.
The trial will start just weeks after prosecutors asserted that Angels officials had “attempted to throw the blanket of attorney-client privilege over” documents related to “unlawful drug distribution.”
Attorneys for the Angels said that the organization had produced more than 350,000 documents related to Kay and Skaggs as they assisted in the investigation, according to federal court documents.
Attorneys for the Angels even noted that in December 2019 after Kay’s office was cleaned out, officials found some potentially relevant items that federal agents missed and contacted federal authorities.
“Angels Baseball has cooperated with the government’s investigation in every possible way, and has produced hundreds of thousands of non-privileged documents relevant to T.S. and Kay,” according to attorneys for the Angels in court documents. “Any contention to the contrary is false.”
A federal criminal complaint written by DEA agent Geoffrey Lindeberg provided this account of Skaggs’ death:
Inside of Skaggs’ hotel room, investigators found a number of pills, including a single blue pill with the markings M/30. The pill, which resembled a 30-milligram oxycodone tablet, was tested and it had been laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate.
Kay allegedly denied knowing whether Skaggs was a drug user. He also claimed the last time he saw Skaggs was at hotel check-in on June 30, but investigators searched Skaggs’ phone, which revealed text messages on June 30 suggesting that Kay stop by his room with pills later that evening.
Hotel key card records indicated Kay’s room was opened at 11:29 p.m., and Skaggs’ was opened nine minutes later.
Kay allegedly admitted to a colleague that he had visited Skaggs’ room the night he died.
Kay is accused of regularly dealing the M/30 pills dubbed “blue boys” to Skaggs and to others, passing out the pills at the stadium where they worked.
This summer, the wife and parents of Skaggs filed lawsuits in Fort Worth and Los Angeles, accusing two former high-level employees and the Major League Baseball team of being responsible for his wrongful death.
The lawsuits named as defendants former Angels communications directors Kay and Tim Mead and three entities that own or control the Angels.