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LA Angels spokesman testifies about pitcher’s drug use on night of his death

The team’s communications director told the jury his former boss said he saw Tyler Skaggs snort opioids off a hotel menu in his room hours before he choked to death on his vomit.

FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) — The Los Angeles Angels’ communications director testified Monday his former boss told him he saw pitcher Tyler Skaggs snort three lines of drugs the night of his death, contradicting an earlier conversation about Skaggs choking on gummy bears instead.

Adam Chodzko took the stand on the fifth day of trial of former Angels staffer Eric Kay, who is accused of dealing opioids to Skaggs, 27, that resulted in his death on July 1, 2019, at a hotel in Southlake before a road game against the Texas Rangers.

Kay, 47, faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted of conspiracy to distribute fentanyl and distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. Prosecutors have argued Kay was the source of the drugs that killed Skaggs that night and that it was the fentanyl specifically that killed him. Kay’s attorneys have argued that Skaggs received opioids from other sources – including teammates – and that those drugs are what caused him to choke on his vomit and die.

Chodzko testified that Kay originally told him the day after Skaggs’ death a rumor that he died after choking on gummy bears. He told the court that a month later after the team returned to Anaheim, Kay appeared out of sorts and was sweating through his shirt during a gameday. He said Kay told him “he had something to needed to tell me” after accepting Chodzko’s offer to drive him home.

“He said he watched Tyler do the three lines,” Chodzko said.

Chodzko testified that Kay told him that he had declined a text message Skaggs sent him on the night of his death asking Kay to come to his room, but then later went anyway. He said Kay told him he saw the three lines of drugs on a hotel menu.

Tarrant County officials initially deemed the death accidental and said a mixture of ethanol, fentanyl and oxycodone were found in Skaggs’ body. Monday’s testimony comes three days after Dr. Marc Krouse, a pathologist with the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, declined to say the fentanyl is what definitively killed Skaggs. Krouse testified as a prosecution witness, but his refusal to pin the death on fentanyl alone played into the defense’s hands. Krouse testified the fentanyl only made the death a “greater probability.”

During opening arguments Feb. 8, defense attorneys claimed Skaggs also received pink pills of Percocet from teammate Matt Harvey. They claim Kay witnessed Skaggs snorted a pink powder of Percocet before he died.

The trial is expected to last two weeks. Kay reportedly rejected a plea bargain on the eve of trial.

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