Kouri Richins, the Utah grief author who faces charges for allegedly killing her hubby with a fentanyl-laced Moscow mule, has been accused of witness tampering after officials found a handwritten letter in her jail cell that relayed instructions about where her family should say that her spouse got the drugs that killed him, prosecutors said.
The writer - who allegedly killed Eric Richins, 39, last year - instructed her mom, Lisa Darden, to have Ronald Darden, Kouri's brother, to falsely testify that Eric received drugs and pills from Mexico, Fox 13 Now reported.
Deputies found the letter inside Richins' cell, where she is being held on charges of first-degree aggravated murder and second-degree possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, according to the outlet.
The search was conducted after the 33-year-old woman suffered a seizure when she was given a wrong medication at the Summit County Jail, the Daily Mail reported.
A source told the outlet that it was the sixth time Richins was given the wrong medication.
In the six-page, handwritten missive, she told her mom to instruct her brother to repeat, "Eric told [redacted name] that he got Pain Pills and fentanyl from Mexico from workers on the ranch.
"[Redacted name] can reword [the narrative] however he needs to, but is super short not a lot to it," she reportedly added.
Richins warned her mother to only speak to Ronald about the matter in person because she believes Lisa's home and phone were bugged.
She also instructed Lisa to get someone named “Lotto” to contact her.
"Tell him do not text me anything about us doing things together ever! Like church, skiing, trips! Nothing that puts us together, it doesn't look good," Richins wrote, according to the Daily Mail.
"We're so close to the end, let's push through. Have the conversation with Ronney before he meets with Skye," she wrote, referring to attorney Skye Lozaro.
"Then tell him to tell Skye at the meeting about the conversation. Hang in there, we're almost there. Love you to the moon," she reportedly added.
Prosecutors have alleged that in a video conference Richins held with her mother last week, she held up a letter for Lisa to read silently, Fox 13 reported.
"It is imperative" that Richins has no contact with her mother or brother because of the newly-found letter, which constitutes witness tampering, prosecutors said in a motion filed Friday.
But Richins' attorney filed a motion accusing the state of violating its gag order by filing the letter, which allegedly taints the prospective jury pool, Fox 13 added.
Richins wrote the tear-jerker book about grief, "Are You With Me?" a year after she allegedly killed Eric with the drink that includes vodka and ginger beer - and, in this case, fentanyl.
Her husband had suspected that she was carrying on an extramarital affair, family attorney Greg Skordas has said.
Eric had previously told a friend he believed his wife was trying to poison him after he became sick following a Valentine's Day dinner the month before his death.
He died a day before Kouri closed on a $2 million deal to buy a 22,000-square-foot home - a deal for which he had allegedly refused to pay.
Kouri is suing Eric's estate, claiming she deserves money and physical assets outlined in their prenuptial agreement.
She is seeking half the equity in the couple's home, which is estimated to be worth "at least $1.9 million," according to the civil lawsuit filed June 9.
The legal title to the home - which the couple bought for $400,000 in 2012 - was in Eric's name, but mortgage payments were made from their joint account, according to ther lawsuit.
Summit County prosecutors recently said in a recent filing that they won't seek the death penalty in the case. They said they reached the decision in "careful consultation" with Eric's sisters and father.
themes: Mexico Utah
Utah children's book author who allegedly poisoned husband accused of asking brother to falsely testify
'Upon information and belief LOL,' Kouri Richins wrote in the letter allegedly asking her brother to falsely testify.A Utah mom of three and children's book author accused of poisoning her husband to death last year allegedly asked her brother to falsely testify in a letter she wrote from jail, according to prosecutors.
Summit County Sheriff's Office deputies located the six-page, handwritten letter written to Kouri Richins' mother, Lisa Darden, in her jail cell while conducting a search, according to court documents.
In the letter, Richins writes that her attorney, Skye Lazaro, "wants to link getting drugs and pills from Mexico, so we need some kind of connection."
Richins, 33, allegedly killed her husband, 39-year-old Eric Richins, with a fentanyl-laced cocktail the evening of March 3, 2022, at their home in Kamas, just outside of Park City, while their three young sons were sleeping. Prosecutors allege Eric's murder was motivated by money.
The letter further instructs Kouri's brother, Ronald “Ronney” Darden, to testify about Eric's “Mexico trips” to buy "pain pills and fentanyl."
"Reword this however he needs to, to make the point[.] Just include it all," the letter reads. "The connection has to be made with Mexico and drugs. ??¦ Upon information and belief LOL."
In a Sept. 15 filing, prosecutors said "no such link exists" between Eric Richins, Mexico and the fentanyl that led to his death.
"[T]he defendant concocts a false narrative for Ronald Darden to repeat," prosecutors said in their filing, adding that the letter shows "evidence of witness tampering. It is unclear if the letter ever made it to Lisa and Rodney Darden, according to the court filing.
Kouri apparently purchased four different life insurance policies on Eric's life totaling more than $1.9 million between 2015 and 2017. On Jan. 1, 2022, months before his murder, Kouri "surreptitiously and without authorization changed the beneficiary for Eric's $2 million life insurance policy to herself," a court document states.
Prior to his death, Eric removed Kouri from his will and made his sister the beneficiary instead, according to investigators.
Eric's family told authorities he had been in fear for his life after Kouri allegedly tried to poison him once several years ago in Greece and again on Valentine's Day 2022, when he says she tried to poison his sandwich.
The couple was apparently having financial disagreements due to Kouri's wish to purchase a $2 million mansion under construction in Wasatch County. She wanted to flip the mansion and sell it for a profit, a warrant states, while Eric thought the project would be too expensive.
In another section of the letter, Kouri asks her mother to help spread the narrative that Eric Richins' sisters were “jealous” of her because "anything they could do, Kouri could do better."
"Being a mom, college, stay at home wife [sic] until she built a million dollar company. A nice house, car, everything she had, they wanted," she wrote.
A day after finding Eric dead in their bed, Kouri allegedly closed a deal on the Wasatch County mansion "alone."
Kouri told investigators the morning of March 4, 2022, she did not know what happened to her husband after calling police to report his death, calling the incident "insane," according to a transcript from police-worn body camera footage taken at the scene of Eric's alleged murder.
After Eric's death, Kouri wrote a children's book about death, "Are You With Me?"
A description for the book, which was listed on Amazon for $14.99, describes "Are You With Me?" as "a must-read for any child who has experienced the pain of loss, and for parents who want to provide their children with the emotional support they need to heal and grow."
Kouri Richins Accused of Witness Tampering in Bombshell Jail Cell Letter
Kouri Richins, the Utah mom accused of spiking her husband's Moscow mule with a lethal dose of fentanyl and then writing a kids' book about grief, appears to be in even more trouble.
In a new court filing, prosecutors alleged that deputies in the Summit County jail searched Richins' cell last week and found a six-page, handwritten letter for her mom that detailed a brazen plan to tamper with a witness in her case.
The letter, allegedly found hidden inside a book, started with the words "Walk The Dog!!" But it then went on to discuss the evidence in her case at length, including testimony she wanted her brother, Ronald, to give that implied Richins' husband was addicted to pain medication and likely killed himself.
Richins wrote that her lawyers wanted to link her husband, Eric, "getting drugs and pills from Mexico" to the fentanyl that killed him, but they needed "some kind of connection."
"Here is what I'm thinking BUT you have to talk to Ronney," she wrote, according to a copy of the letter included in prosecutors' filing.
She then outlined a version of events in which Ronald was watching football with Eric one Sunday about a year before Eric's death. Eric told Ronald "that he got Pain Pills and fentanyl from Mexico from the workers at the ranch," she wrote. Eric told Ronald not to tell his wife "because I would get mad because I always said he just gets high every night and won't help take care of the kids (there are photos in my phone of [E]ric passed out on the floor or in the chair)," she continued.
She went on to claim Eric "didn't want anyone to know he had an issue" and would often travel with drugs in Richins' bag so that she would take the fall. "She was pissed he would risk her going to jail for his drug use. He just would laugh about it," Richins wrote, paraphrasing Ronald's testimony.
"Reword this however he needs to, to make the point," she wrote. ..... Ronney will have the messages to prove Eric confided in him about getting high."
She suggested her mom meet up with Ronald to discuss the testimony in person, as she feared her mom's house and phone was bugged.
"Tell him I need him to do this. Bring me home and then we will get those damn bitches!" she wrote.
Prosecutors said the entire narrative is a lie and that the letter is evidence of witness tampering. They said it was unclear if the letter ever made it to Richins' mom but, during a video call last week, Richins "held up yet another letter" for her mom to see that was not found in Richins' cell. They requested that a judge slap Richins with a no-contact order for both her mother and brother.
In a reply to the no-contact request, Richins' attorney argued that the state violated a gag order by including the full letter in its filing and potentially tainting a jury pool.
Before her arrest last year, Richins had parlayed her husband's seemingly tragic death in March 2022 into a fledging career as a kids' book author, even appearing on TV to hawk her book, Are You With Me?, which depicts her late spouse with a halo and angel wings.
But it quickly unraveled when she was arrested in May 2023 for aggravated murder and drug offenses.
Authorities have since outlined a slew of evidence against Richins. Eric had contacted divorce and estate planning lawyers and altered his will to make his sister the primary beneficiary shortly before his death, prosecutors say. In turn, Kouri Richins had allegedly taken out nearly $2 million in life insurance policies against him, spent a $250,000 home equity line of credit on the home she and her husband shared, and pulled at least $130,000 more from his bank accounts and credit cards.
Prosecutors say she contacted an acquaintance asking for powerful pain medication-"some of the Michael Jackson stuff"-weeks before she made him a bedtime cocktail that contained five times the lethal dose of fentanyl. After he died, she allegedly searched terms online like whether police can see deleted messages, how long life insurance companies take to pay, "luxury prisons for the rich in America," "What is considered non-natural manner of death," and "Kouri Richins Kamas net worth."
Utah grief author accused of killing husband with fentanyl asked brother to 'testify falsely,' state says
A Utah author on trial for her husband's murder after allegedly spiking a Moscow mule with a fatal dose of fentanylis now accused of witness tampering, according to recently filed court documents.
Kouri Richins is specifically accused of concocting a false narrative by requesting that her brother, Ronald Darden, tell defense counsel a specific story in an attempt to link her husband's death to his alleged purchase of drugs.
Richins, who authored the book Are You With Me?to help children cope with griefa year after her husband's death, was arrested and charged with killing Eric Richins at their home in Klamas, Utah, southeast of Salt Lake City.
Richins was arrested in May on charges of aggravated murder and other crimes. She is in custody at Summit County Jail in Park City, Utah awaiting trial.
During a search of the Richins' cell last week, a six-page letter, addressed to her mother, was found inside a book which instructed her to get the author's brother, Ronald, "to testify falsely in this matter," per a motion filed Friday by the State of Utah.
The motion requested no contact between Richins and her mother and brother.
"Here is what I'm thinking but you have to talk to Ronney," Richins wrote about her brother Ronald. "He would probably have to testify to this but its super short not a lot to it."
In the letter, Richins writes that the defense counsel intends to link her husband buying drugs and pain pills from Mexico to the fentanyl that caused his death.
No such link exists, according to the prosecution.
The letter goes on to describe an event that allegedly occurred a year beforeher husband'sdeath where he told her brother that her husband "gets pain pills and fentanyl from Mexico."The letter also states that Richin's husband told her brothernot to tell Richins "because I would get mad because I always said he just gets high every night and won't help take care of the kids."
Richins alleges in the letter that this conversation actually occurred.
The letter says that her brother can "reword this however he needs to" and instructs her motherto meet him in person to relay this information to him.
The letter also instructs Richins' mother to speak to a few of her friends about what they should mention during an upcoming "Good Morning America" interview.
"Please tell Chelsea to bring up that he hasn't been to church in the 13 yrs she has known him," Richins wrote about her husband, Eric."And Eric would brag to her about how much he drank and did pills in high school."
The prosecution says Richins' letter shows that she's "willing to witness tamper through a third party."
"To protect the integrity of this proceeding, it is imperative that the Defendant have no contact with Lisa Darden or Ronald Darden while this matter is pending," the document states. "The Defendant's conduct in drafting and hiding the letter establishes her intent to witness tamper. Her reliance on Lisa Darden and Ronald Darden suggests their predisposition to tampering."
An attorney for Richins did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Richins was arrested and charged with killing Eric Richins last year during a quiet celebration at their home after she closed on a home for her business, according to authorities.
A medical examiner said Eric, 39, had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system at the time of his death on March 4, 2022.
Lawyers for Kouri Richins have denied the allegations, saying in a June court filing that there "has not been a single text message or other document turned over in discovery to support the allegation that Eric ever believed Kouri attempted to poison him."
The lawyers added there was "no substantial evidence to support the charges."
Grief book author charged with witness tampering in alleged murder case
Utah Mom and Children's Book Author Accused of Witness Tampering in Husband's Murder Case
Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three and children's book author who is facing charges for allegedly poisoning her husband to death last year, has now been accused of witness tampering. Prosecutors claim that Richins wrote a six-page, handwritten letter from her jail cell, asking her brother to falsely testify about her husband's alleged drug use. The letter was discovered by Summit County Sheriff's Office deputies during a search of her cell. According to court documents, the letter was addressed to Richins' mother, Lisa Darden.
In the letter, Richins allegedly stated that her attorney wanted to establish a connection between her husband's drug use and Mexico. She requested her brother, Ronald “Ronney” Darden, to testify about Eric Richins' supposed trips to Mexico to purchase pain pills and fentanyl. Richins instructed her brother to include all details and to reword the narrative as necessary to make the point. However, prosecutors stated in a filing that there is no evidence to support the link between Eric Richins, Mexico, and the fentanyl that caused his death.
It remains unclear if the letter ever reached Lisa and Ronney Darden. Prosecutors argue that the letter constitutes evidence of witness tampering. Richins had allegedly purchased multiple life insurance policies on her husband's life, totaling over $1.9 million, between 2015 and 2017. She had also changed the beneficiary on his $2 million life insurance policy to herself without authorization, months before his murder. .....
According to investigators, Eric's family revealed that he had feared for his life after Richins had allegedly attempted to poison him in the past. They claimed that she had tried to poison him while they were in Greece several years ago and again on Valentine's Day 2022 by lacing his sandwich. The couple was reportedly having financial disagreements over Richins' desire to purchase a $2 million mansion in Wasatch County. Richins planned to flip the mansion for a profit, while Eric believed the project would be too expensive.
In another section of the letter, Richins asked her mother to spread a narrative suggesting that Eric's sisters were jealous of her success. She claimed that anything they could do, she could do better, from being a mom to building a million-dollar company. .....
During an investigation, Richins told authorities that she didn't know what had happened to her husband after calling the police to report his death. She described the incident as "insane." Following his death, Richins wrote a children's book about grief titled "Are You With Me?". The book aimed to provide emotional support to children who have experienced loss.
Richins, who is currently being held on charges of first-degree aggravated murder and second-degree possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, suffered a seizure after being given the wrong medication at the Summit County Jail. This incident prompted the search that uncovered the letter. The defense argued that the state had violated its gag order by filing the letter, potentially tainting the prospective jury pool.
Prosecutors recently announced that they would not seek the death penalty in the case, stating that the decision was made in consultation with Eric's sisters and father. Richins has filed a civil lawsuit against Eric's estate, claiming she is entitled to half the equity in their home, which is estimated to be worth at least $1.9 million. The lawsuit argues that mortgage payments were made from their joint account, despite the legal title being in Eric's name.
The case continues to unfold as prosecutors gather evidence against Richins for the alleged murder of her husband and the potential witness tampering charges.
Woman charged in husband's poisoning death accused of witness tampering while in Utah jail
A Utah children's book author charged with fatally poisoning her husband has now been accused of witness tampering, according to court documents.
Kouri Richins, a mother of three who wrote a book about about coping with grief after losing her husband, was arrested in June in connection with Eric Richins death last year. Prosecutors alleged that Richins called authorities in the middle of the night in March 2022 to report that her husband was "cold to the touch" and unresponsive. He had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system, a medical examiner found.
Prosecutors said that deputies found a six-page letter in Richins' cell at Summit County jail on Sept. 14. The alleged message to her mother, Lisa Darden, included instructions for Richins' brother, Ronald, prosecutors say.
"The letter instructs Lisa Darden to induce the Defendant's brother, Ronald Darden, who is Lisa Darden's son, to testify falsely in this matter," the court document states. .....
Richins allegedly asked her mother in the letter to relate the request to Ronald Darden in person because she worried her mother's "house and phone are bugged."
She allegedly wrote that “Ronny” could phrase the story how he wanted, saying "it can be short and to the point but has to be done."
The letter also includes a section on mortgage relief and a request for teeth whitening strips, prosecutors said.
"I love you. I love you. I love you! Hang in there, we're getting there, slowly," she allegedly wrote at the close of the letter. "Your [sic] the best mom in the whole world! I'm so lucky to have you!"
Prosecutors asked the judge to bar Richins from contacting her mother and brother based on the contents of the letter. They wrote that it's unclear if the letter or its content ever made it to Lisa Darden or anyone else.
They're also investigating another letter from Sept. 13. Prosecutors said that during a video conference with her mother, Richins held up a letter to be read silently. That letter has not been found, and prosecutors believe it was likely destroyed.
Richins' defense has filed a separate motion arguing that the state's public filing of the alleged handwritten letter violated the gag order in the case, calling it an "extrajudicial statement made for the apparent purpose of influencing the court of public opinion." They also alleged that prosecutors obtained the letter "through a potentially illegal search of Ms. Richins' documents, which were stored in an envelope titled "Skye Lazaro (Attorney Privilege)."
Katie Richins-Benson, the sister of Kouri Richins' late husband, filed a lawsuit earlier this year, seeking over $13 million in damages for alleged financial wrongdoing before and after his death.