Former Los Angeles Angels staffer Eric Kay's trial heads to jury Thursday as defense rests

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The trial of Eric Kay, the former Los Angeles Angels communications director charged with the 2019 death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs, is headed to the jury.

The defense rested Wednesday after presenting a brief case, and closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday morning. After that, 10 women and two men will decide whether the government proved that Kay distributed the opioid fentanyl, and that in doing so, caused Skaggs' death.

Before wrapping its case, the defense called a fifth player to the stand to testify about his own drug use, free-agent pitcher Blake Parker. Parker, who played with the Angels for one season in 2018, was in tears when he took the stand in the afternoon, although he was composed when questioning began. He said he had received oxycodone pills from Kay, but couldn't remember if Skaggs introduced the two men.

"I don't remember who told me that he was 'the man,'" Parker said.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta asked Parker several times if he remembered telling police that Kay felt pressured to provide drugs to the players.

"Do you remember a conversation with Mr. Kay about his desire to stop doing drugs?" Molfetta said.

"Yes," Parker responded.

"Do you remember him saying it's hard to do because 'those guys keep banging on me for more pills?'" Molfetta asked.

"I don't remember saying that, no" Parker said. "What I remember is it was more that he didn't want to get involved with the people he had to get involved with to get the pills."

Molfetta continued to press Parker about what he said to police, but Parker wouldn't budge. Parker did say, however, that he stopped asking Kay for pills once he knew Kay was trying to get clean.

"I thought, 'Well, I don't want to put him in a bad spot, so why would I try to get him to get me something he didn't want to use himself,'" Parker said.

The morning began with testimony from Skaggs' stepbrother, Garet Ramos, whom the defense called to ask about Skaggs' early use of oxycodone and the allegation that Ramos deleted texts from Skaggs' phone after the pitcher died.

The defense had trouble tracking him down last week, and when Ramos took the stand he said that an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis made it hard for him to remember past events. Molfetta asked Ramos repeatedly if he remembered providing Skaggs with oxycodone to help wean the pitcher off Percocet in 2013. Skaggs' mother, Debbie Hetman, testified last week that her son told family members he had "an issue" with the opioid painkiller that year.

Ramos answered Molfetta's questions as literally as possible, saying, no, he did not "buy" Skaggs pills to help him wean off Percocet. When Molfetta pressed, Ramos conceded, "I helped Tyler wean off with the pills he gave me that he said he was taking."

Ramos apparently told a grand jury that he gave Skaggs half of a round, blue pill twice a day in order to help him break his Percocet habit, but said Wednesday he couldn't remember saying that, despite getting a chance to review his grand jury testimony.

Later in the day, the defense submitted the relevant lines from that grand jury testimony into evidence.

The defense also brought two more former Angels into court, taking two minutes each to ask Andrelton Simmons and Trevor Cahill if they remembered Skaggs saying he planned to go out the night he died. Both said Skaggs did tell them that at some point, but that they believed he did not end up going out.