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Grief Book Author Charged with Poisoning Husband Accused of Witness Tampering after Letter Found in Jail Cell
The State of Utah claims a note was found in the jail cell of Kouri Richins, who's accused of giving her husband a lethal fentanyl dose, that instructed her mom to have her brother falsely testify.
Kouri Richins, the grief book author charged with her husband's murder after allegedly fatally poisoning him with a fentanyl-laced cocktail, has now been accused of witness tampering.
The State of Utah alleges in a new court filing that a six-page, handwritten note was found in her jail cell during a search of her cell block by Summit County deputies, according to Salt Lake City-based station FOX 13. The letter was addressed to her mom, Lisa Darden, allegedly telling her to have Richins' brother Ronald Darden falsely testify that her dead husband scored drugs and pills from Mexico, leading to his death.
Richins was arrested in May at her home in Kamas, Utah, more than a year after her husband Eric Richins died of a fentanyl overdose on March 3, 2022 at age 39. She's accused of trying to frame his death as an accidental overdose.
The state alleges in its motion filed Friday that Richins wrote in the letter found in her cell that her mother should have her brother testify that, "Eric told [redacted name] that he got pain pills and fentanyl from Mexico from workers on the ranch."
The note allegedly added, "[Redacted name] can reword [the narrative] however he needs to, but is super short not a lot to it."
Richins is also accused of writing to her mom that she should give her brother these instructions in person because she was concerned that Lisa's "house and phone are bugged," FOX 13 reported.
In addition, the State of Utah believes that during a video conference that Richins had with Lisa on September 13, Richins held up a note for her mom to read to herself. The state suspects the letter was later destroyed.
In the new motion, that state said that "it is imperative" that Richins no longer have contact with Lisa and Ronald due to the alleged note found in the cell, which they say is proof of witness tampering.
A lawyer for Richins filed a motion stating that information in the letter will keep the defendant from getting a fair trial and taint a potential jury pool, and also claiming that the State of Utah has violated a gag order by filing the note, according to FOX 13.
Prosecutors stated in court documents filed in August that Richins won’t face the death penalty for allegedly killing her husband. They said they came to the decision after “careful consultation” with Eric’s family members.
“This decision was made in careful consultation with Eric Richins’ father and his two sisters, who are Eric Richins’ personal representative and victim representative, respectively,” prosecutors for the Summit County Attorney’s Office wrote at the time, according to CNN.
Prosectors say that Richins and her husband were arguing about the purchase of a $2 million home leading up to Eric's death, with him unwilling to commit to buying the mansion. They also stated that Richins closed on the house the day after her husband was allegedly killed.
Eric, who shared three kids with Richins, had also allegedly once told a friend that he suspected that Richins was trying to poison him after he started feeling ill following a Valentine’s Day dinner about a month before he died, the New York Post previously reported.
Richins wrote a grief book for children, titled Are You With Me?, that came out on March 5 of this year — two days after the one-year anniversary of her husband's death and about two months before her arrest for his alleged murder.