Author of mourning book on trial over husband’s death, accused of witness tampering

By | September 18, 2023

A Utah mother accused of fatally poisoning her husband before writing a children’s book about grief is now accused of witness tampering after a handwritten letter addressed to her mother was found in her cell, according to state prosecutors.

The six-page letter allegedly written by Kouri Richins lays out a plan for her brother to falsely claim that her late husband, Eric Richins, was a regular drug user who obtained the fentanyl that killed him while in Mexico, according to a copy from the letter filed in a Summit County courtroom and obtained by CNN and Fox News.

“The connection has to be made with Mexico and drugs. …Upon information and belief LOL,” reads the letter addressed to Richins’ mother, Lisa Darden.

Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband, Eric Richins, appears at a court hearing on September 1 in Park City, Utah.

Rick Bowmer/Pool via Associated Press

The letter, which was reportedly recovered at the Summit County Jail in Park City on Thursday, states that Eric Richins himself obtaining the drugs is the most plausible explanation, at least according to his lawyer.

“She wants to link Eric to receiving drugs and pills from Mexico, so we need some kind of connection,” the letter states.

His attorney, Skye Lazaro, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To accomplish this, the letter asks that Kouri Richins’ brother, Ronald Darden, be instructed to tell Lazaro that a year before her husband’s death they had a conversation in which he said he was purchasing painkillers and fentanyl from Mexico.

“Tell Ronney not to overanalyze. It was a quick 2 minutes. conversation LOL Tell him I need him to do this. Take me home and then we’ll catch these damn bitches! the letter states.

Richins, seen here with her lawyer, wrote a children's book about grieving after her husband's death.
Richins, seen here with her lawyer, wrote a children’s book about grieving after her husband’s death.

Rick Bowmer/Pool via Associated Press

Exactly who she was referring to at the end isn’t immediately clear, although Kouri Richins had a bitter relationship with her late husband’s family. Her sister-in-law called her “desperate, greedy and extremely manipulative” during a bail hearing in June.

The letter also asks Lisa Darden to contact someone named Lotto and tell him not to text her about them “doing things together, ever.”

“Like church, skiing, traveling! Nothing that unites us. It doesn’t look good,” the letter says.

State prosecutors, in their court filing Friday, asked that Richins have no further contact with his mother or brother over the letter, which they say constitutes witness tampering.

Prosecutors said it is unclear whether the letter or its contents were shared with Lisa Darden or anyone else. They noted that on Wednesday, the day before the letter was allegedly found inside a book, Kouri Richins was seen holding a different letter for her mother to read during a video conference. That letter was never found and is believed to have been destroyed.

Richins’ attorney responded to these allegations by accusing the state, in a separate motion, of violating a gag order by presenting the letter to the court. Filing the letter, her attorney argued, prejudices the prospective jury pool and prevents her from receiving a fair trial, Fox 13 Now reported. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 3. The trial date has not yet been set.

Kouri Richins has been incarcerated since May, when she was arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Her arrest came just over a year after she reported finding her husband lying unconscious in their home after consuming a cocktail she made for him.

An autopsy determined that he died from orally consuming about five times the lethal dose of fentanyl. An acquaintance of Kouri Richins, who had previous drug charges, told detectives that they sold her prescription painkillers several times in the weeks before her death and that she had specifically requested fentanyl and “some Michael Jackson stuff” from according to court documents. .

Shortly before her arrest, Kouri Richins made TV appearances to promote her illustrated children’s book, “Are You With Me?” which features a cartoon character who appears to be based on her late husband as an angel in the clouds. Richins said she wrote the book to comfort her three children during their times of grief.

“It’s very comforting for them to know that they’re not living this life alone,” she said during a promotional interview. “Dad is still here. It’s just in a different way.”

Prosecutors alleged that Kouri Richins poisoned her husband amid marital disputes and fights over expenses, including a multimillion-dollar mansion she purchased immediately after his death. Shortly before her death, Kouri Richins also took out major life insurance policies on him, with benefits totaling nearly $2 million.

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