Prosecutors decry attempt by Eric Kay's lawyers to delay trial in Tyler Skaggs case

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FILE - In this May 25, 2019, file photo, Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels say they do not know whether a longtime public relations official had been providing drugs to late pitcher Skaggs, as detailed in a report on ESPN's "Outside the Lines." Eric Kay, a 24-year employee of the Angels' PR department, told the Drug Enforcement Agency he had provided opioids to Skaggs and used them with the pitcher for years, according to the ESPN report Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Kay reportedly watched as Skaggs snorted three lines of crushed pills in his hotel room in Texas, on the night before he was found dead. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Tyler Skaggs, pitching for the Angels on May 25, 2019, was found dead in a Texas hotel room on July 1, 2019. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

As a grand jury returned a superseding indictment against former Angels communications director Eric Kay on Tuesday in connection with the overdose death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors assailed an effort by Kay’s attorneys to delay his trial that’s scheduled to start next week.

The superseding indictment in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth expanded the first of two charges against Kay to include conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. The original charge referenced only fentanyl.

Kay’s attorneys filed a motion Monday asking Judge Terry Means to postpone the trial for at least 30 days because the superseding indictment disrupted their strategy a week before jury selection. In a response Tuesday, prosecutors insisted there’s no grounds for delay.

“Defense counsel in this case has taken every opportunity to extend the deadline for this trial,” assistant U.S. attorney Lindsey Beran wrote in the response. “The defendant and his counsel have been aware of the evidence against the defendant for months. They have been aware that the government intended to present evidence of his entire drug distribution conspiracy, both his oxycodone distribution and his fentanyl distribution. The defendant’s motion to continue is just another attempt to cause additional, unwarranted delay.”

Skaggs was found dead in a Texas hotel room on July 1, 2019, before the Angels played the Texas Rangers. An autopsy report found Skaggs choked on his vomit that resulted from “mixed ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone intoxication.” Law enforcement discovered a counterfeit oxycodone pill laced with fentanyl in the hotel room.

Prosecutors allege Kay, first charged in August 2020, distributed oxycodone to Major League Baseball players since 2017 and provided the fentanyl that resulted in Skaggs’ death. Kay has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors argued in their response that the superseding indictment doesn’t change the underlying conspiracy they’re alleging and wasn’t based on new evidence, but instead oxycodone was added “so as not to confuse the jury” for a trial that’s already been delayed four times.

“This discovery contains a significant amount of evidence related to the oxycodone distribution as well as his sources of supply … The defendant has had the evidence for months and will not be prejudiced by or with any new or additional evidence,” the response said.

The filing accused the defense of not filing a witness list, which was due Monday, and not providing any discovery.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.