Grief book author charged with witness tampering in alleged murder case

13:18 18.09.2023

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. Prior to his death, Eric had removed Richins from his will, making his sister the beneficiary instead.

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. Richins allegedly closed a deal on the Wasatch County mansion alone, just a day after finding her husband dead in their bed.

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.

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 1:18 PM /

themes:  Mexico  Utah

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