The Utah mother of three accused of killing her husband and then writing a children’s book about dealing with loss is facing new legal trouble: accusations of witness tampering.
Investigators say Kouri Richins, 33, laced a cocktail with deadly amounts of fentanyl before giving it to her husband Eric Richins in March 2022. Kouri Richens told police she gave her husband a mixed drink and a marijuana gummy before they went to bed. She allegedly went to lie down with her son and returned to the bedroom a few hours later to find Eric Richens out cold on the floor.
Testing found five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system. Police say they learned Kouri Richins purchased fentanyl pills in the days before Eric’s death.
She now faces charges of first-degree aggravated murder and second-degree possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. A judge has denied bond, so she’s been behind bars since her arrest.
In paperwork filed on Sept. 15, the state of Utah submitted a letter to the court called the “Walk the Dog” letter. It’s a six-page, handwritten note that deputies found in her jail cell. In it, Kouri Richins instructs her mother, Lisa Darden, to have Richins’ brother, Ronald Darden, lie about her dead husband. She allegedly wanted her brother to tell the court that her husband got the pills that caused his death from Mexico.
In the letter, Kouri Richins says Ronald Darden needs to say specifically that “Eric told Ronney that he got Pain Pills and fentanyl from Mexico from workers on the ranch.”
She also says her mother should give her brother the message in person, because Kouri Richins believes her mother’s home is bugged and her phone is tapped.
In its motion, the state argues that Kouri Richins shouldn’t have any contact at all with her mother or brother, because the letter constitutes witness tampering.
But in response to the filing, Kouri Richins’ attorney, Skye Lazaro, filed a rebuttal motion, claiming the state violated the gag order that prosecutors requested by releasing the letter. Lazaro believes the information could taint the jury and prevent Kouri Richins from getting a fair trial in Summit County, Utah.
The defense also claims that the state may have obtained a copy of the letter illegally. The letter was initially in a large yellow envelope with Lazaro’s name on the outside and “Attorney Privilege” written on it in parentheses. In a photo included in the filing, the envelope appears to have been torn open.
About a year after Eric Richens died, Kouri Richins published a children’s book called “Are You With Me?” to help their three sons deal with the loss of their father. It has since been removed from Amazon.
Read the “Walk the Dog” letter, below.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]