Kamas mother charged with husband’s murder
Kouri Richins 'had a financial motive to murder' Eric Richins, his family says
A Kamas mother who authored a book intended to help children work through the grief of losing a parent has been charged with the murder of her husband whose death inspired the story.
Kouri Darden Richins, 33, was arrested by Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Monday for the aggravated murder of Eric Richins, who was found deceased in the couple’s home last year. The mother of three is also facing three second-degree felonies for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.
Charging documents state Eric Richins died in the early hours of March 4, 2022 after ingesting five times the lethal dose of illicit fentanyl. He was 39.
Prosecutors allege that Kouri intentionally drugged Eric after court filings said she purchased $1,800 worth of fentanyl pills in the weeks leading up to his overdose. Court filings made by the Richins family state Kouri “had a financial motive to murder Eric.”
Kouri, who works as a realtor in Summit County, told deputies she and Eric were celebrating her closing on a house for the business, and that she made him a Moscow Mule, which he consumed in the bedroom. Kouri went to sleep shortly after in one of their children’s bedrooms stating that the child was having a night terror, according to charging documents. She told deputies her cell phone was left charging in her bedroom.
Around 3 a.m., Kouri returned to her bedroom and found Eric “cold to the touch.” She called 911 and told deputies she began performing life-saving measures. First responders arrived roughly 20 minutes later.
However, charging documents indicate discrepancies in Kouri’s recount.
Prosecutors said the status of Kouri’s phone shows it was unlocked and locked multiple times throughout the night with multiple messages sent during that time. The messages were subsequently deleted from Kouri’s device as well as the phone of the person she was communicating with. Authorities also believe no CPR was attempted due to a large amount of blood coming from Eric’s mouth, according to court documents detailing information included in the arrest warrant.
A medical examiner determined Eric was in good health and did not use medications that contained fentanyl. An autopsy determined he likely consumed the fentanyl orally. There was nothing to indicate Eric used illicit drugs recreationally.
Deputies obtained a search warrant for the couple’s Kamas home, seizing several technology devices as evidence. Investigators located communications between Kouri and an individual with a previous criminal history of drug charges, according to charging documents.
Kouri contacted the individual sometime between December 2021 and February 2022 requesting prescription pain medication for an investor with a back injury. Prosecutors said the individual later delivered hydrocodone pills, which Kouri instructed them to leave at a house she was flipping in Midway. She allegedly left cash at the home in exchange for the pills.
According to charging documents, Kouri asked the individual for something stronger a few weeks later – specifically fentanyl. She allegedly paid $900 for between 15 and 30 fentanyl pills on Feb. 11.
Prosecutors said Kouri served Eric a sandwich on Feb. 14 that made him very ill, to the point he believed he had been poisoned. Court documents state he broke into hives and couldn’t breathe. Eric used an Epi-pen and took Benadryl before passing out for several hours. When he woke up, he called his business partner to inform him about the incident and said “he thought that Kouri was trying to poison him,” the documents said.
“Eric has told friends and/or family that if anything happened to him Kouri would be the one to blame,” court filings stated.
Kouri allegedly contacted the individual for another $900 worth of pills, which were delivered to the Midway house around Feb. 26. Six days later, Eric was found dead of an overdose.
Before his death, Eric changed the beneficiary of his will to one of his sisters. Kouri in January 2022 allegedly logged into Eric’s life insurance account and unsuccessfully attempted to change the beneficiary from his business partner to herself. Kouri sued Eric’s sister for control over the estate shortly after he died.
His sister recently filed a petition to disqualify Kouri from receiving any benefits under his estate and alleged Kouri had a financial motive to kill Eric.
According to the court filing, Kouri began experiencing serious financial troubles in 2016, three years after she married Eric, and started stealing money from her husband to help her flip houses. The document states that Eric was unaware of the theft until September 2020, when he discovered Kouri had withdrawn more than $100,000 total from his bank accounts and that she had charged more than $30,000 to his credit cards.
“Eric confronted Kouri about the stolen money and Kouri admitted she had taken the money,” the filing states.
Additionally, Kouri is accused of using money that was intended to pay for Eric’s tax obligations for her own benefit. Court documents state that she told Eric more than $50,000 in tax payments had been made between September 2020 until at least November 2021.
Kouri also allegedly borrowed $250,000 using fraudulent power of attorney by forging Eric’s initials to open a revolving line of credit. He confronted her about the loan, which she promised to pay back, just a few days before Eric died, according to court documents.
Kouri has since requested her civil lawsuit be stayed until the criminal proceeding is worked out.
The Summit County Juvenile Court was scheduled to host a pretrial conference on Friday to address whether the couple’s children should remain in Kouri’s custody or be appointed a temporary guardian.
Kouri started doing interviews with media organizations around Utah nearly one year after her husband’s death to promote her book, “Are you with me?” She said it was written with her children to answer the questions they had following Eric’s death. The book, which was available on Amazon, was criticized by some readers for the inclusion of the Richins’ children’s names and photos. It has since been taken offline.
The case has since gained national news coverage. Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik has scheduled a detention hearing on May 19 to determine whether Kouri should be released from jail before trial.
Kouri has retained Salt Lake City-based criminal defense attorney Skye Lazaro. Lazaro did not respond to The Park Record’s request for comment by the time of publication.
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