Summit County court denies gag order in Kouri Richins murder trial

Kouri Richins set to appear for detention hearing on June 12

Kouri D. Richins, 33, of Kamas, is charged with four felonies, including aggravated murder, stemming from the death of her husband Eric Richins at their home on March 4, 2022. Richins died of a fentanyl overdose. He was 39.
Park Record file photo by David Jackson

The Kamas mother facing numerous felony charges appeared in court for the first time last week after prosecutors sought a gag order to prevent those involved in the case from speaking about it publicly. 

The Summit County Attorney’s Office said the order was needed as four documentary crews and various national media outlets have attempted to approach 33-year-old Kouri Darden Richins, who is charged with the aggravated murder of her husband Eric Richins, as well as members of his family and court staffers for information related to ongoing cases. 

Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik denied the motion on Friday, saying it was too broad. The request was similar to the one issued in the Bryan Kohberger case, in which he is accused of killing four University of Idaho students last November.

Prosecutor Patricia Cassell argued the gag order was needed to ensure a fair trial and to protect the Richins children. Non-local media is accused of camping out in the waiting area of the County Attorney’s Office; attempting to enter the jail to speak to Kouri; contacting the Summit County Jail and questioning whether the defendant is eating her food; reaching out to key witnesses for statements; making promises of having a “handsome actor” play the Richins’ family private investigator in an upcoming movie; and approaching a court clerk at a gas station requesting information. 

According to court documents, call records from the jail show that Kouri has been communicating with a documentary filmmaker directly and through a friend. 

While her defense attorney, Skye Lazaro, was supportive of enforcing protections for the Richins children, she was against the gag order. She said it would allow the only public narrative to be what’s been filed in court documents, which could harm her client’s defense and taint the jury pool.

Mrazik noted both the prosecutors and defense – as well as their witnesses – are expected to act with professional conduct, which includes statements they make to the media.

Kouri is also charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a second-degree felony, stemming from the March 4, 2022 death of her husband. Officials determined Eric died after ingesting five times the lethal dose of illicit fentanyl.

She is also embroiled in legal battles with the Richins family related to Eric’s property and estate as well as the custody of their children. 

Kouri is currently incarcerated. She was initially scheduled to appear in court in May, but the detention hearing was moved to June 12 after new court filings provided a more detailed timeline of the alleged marital troubles between the couple.

The court agreed to let Kouri appear in civilian clothes without restraints for all proceedings.

Other court filings show prosecutors intend to call Matt Throckmorton, a forensic document examiner, Brooke Karrington, the principal of Karrington Financial Forensics, and Christopher Kotrodimos, a private investigator and former homicide detective who will assist with analyzing cell phone-related data, as expert witnesses.

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