A Utah mother accused of fatally poisoning her husband with a fentanyl-laced cocktail is now facing new charges in the disturbing case for allegedly concocting a story about the victim’s supposed drug purchases overseas.
Prosecutors in Summit County have now charged 33-year-old Kouri Richins with witness tampering over what they say was an attempt to get her brother to “falsely” testify in her favour.
Ms Richins is already facing aggravated murder and three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute in the March 2022 death of her husband Eric Richins.
Ms Richins allegedly killed her husband of seven years by slipping a lethal dose of fentanyl into a Moscow Mule he later drank. Before her arrest earlier this year, she self-published a children’s book about grief based on her children’s experiences after they lost their father.
The prosecution has now filed a motion requesting no contact between Ms Richins and two of her family members. According to the filing, authorities found a six-page letter hidden in Ms Richins’s cell in which she asked her mother Lisa Darden to instruct her brother “to testify falsely in this matter.”
In the letter, obtained by CourtTV, Ms Richins writes that her brother Ronald Darden should tell her attorney about a supposed two-minute conversation in which her late husband told Mr Darden about buying drugs overseas.
“Here is what I’m thinking but you have to talk to Ronney,” Ms Richins wrote. “A year prior to Eric’s death, Ronny was over watching football and Eric and Ronny were chatting about Mexico trips. Eric told Ronny he gets painkillers [and] fentanyl from Mexico.”
Prosecutors have previously said there is no evidence suggesting Richins bought the fentanyl that killed him.
Ms Richins went on to write that Mr Darden “would probably have to testify to this but it’s super short not a lot to it.” She also said in the letter Mr Darden could take some liberties with the narrative as long as he got the point across.
She then asked her mother to relay her message to Mr Darden.
Ms Richins also referenced an upcoming “Good Morning America interview” featuring close friends of hers. Ms Richins wrote precise instructions about the things that should be mentioned in the interview.
“Please tell [redacted] to bring up that he hasn’t been to church in the 13 [years] she has known him,” the letter read. “And Eric would brag to her about how much he drank and did pills in high school … Tell [redacted] to say, ‘Eric always wanted Kouri to go down for him.’”
“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,” prosecutors argued.
Following her husband’s death on 4 March 2022, Ms Richins self-published a children’s book. The book — titled Are You With Me? — features an angelic father watching over his children from heaven after his death.
Ms Richins appeared on a local TV show to promote the book just weeks before she was taken into custody in May.
Prosecutors have claimed that Ms Richins had previously tried to poison her husband after he found out she was in debt.
Ms Richins reportedly took out at least four life insurance policies on her husband before she allegedly poisoned him. According to documents previously presented in court, Richins had consulted a divorce attorney after learning that his wife was more than $2m in debt.
On Valentine’s Day 2022, she allegedly “prepared a sandwich for Eric Richins and placed it on the seat of his truck with a love note”.
Richins reportedly broke out in hives and later told a friend that he believed his wife had tried to poison him.
Prosecutors believe that Ms Richins then procured illicit fentanyl and drugged a Moscow Mule she made for her husband.
An analysis of her phone found that searches on Ms Richin’s iPhone included “Can cops force you to do a lie detector test?”, “Luxury prisons for the rich in America” and “If someone is poisoned what does it go down on the death certificate as,” KCRA reported.
Ms Richins has denied the allegations against her.
Prosecutors announced the state would not be seeking the death penalty in the case. If convicted, Ms Richins faces between 25 years to life in prison.