Bail hearing set for Utah woman accused of killing her husband and then writing a bereavement book for children

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — A Utah woman who wrote a children’s book about coping with grief after her husband’s death, and who was later charged with fatally poisoning him, is scheduled to appear before the court on Monday to determine whether she should remain in detention or be given the option of posting bail.

Kouri Richins, 33, is charged with murder and drug possession.

Prosecutors say in court papers she slipped five times the lethal dose of fentanyl into a cocktail of Moscow mules she made for her husband, Eric Richins, amid marital disputes and fights over a mansion of several million dollars which she eventually bought as an investment.

The mother-of-three has self-published an illustrated book about an angelic father watching over his sons.

The case became a true crime fixation when charges were filed last month, prompting people to look at the children’s book and examine the remarks she made while promoting it as a tool to help children to mourn the loss of a loved one.

Prosecutors profiled an accomplice woman who tried to kill her husband weeks earlier by lacing a Valentine’s Day sandwich with hydrocodone and repeatedly denied involvement on the day of his death in March 2022, even telling the police: “My husband is active. He doesn’t just die in his sleep. It’s insane.”

In a motion seeking her release filed on Friday, lawyers for Kouri Richins argued that the evidence against her was circumstantial because police never seized fentanyl from the family home. They also questioned the credibility of key witnesses believed to support prosecutors’ request to keep her in custody.

Lawyers said prosecutors ‘simply accepted’ Eric Richins’ family’s account that his wife poisoned him ‘and worked backwards in an effort to support him’ by spending around 14 months investigating and finding no evidence to support their theory.

The case also shone a spotlight on Kamas, Utah, a farming town in the back of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains near Park City, one of the top destinations in the American West for the skiing, hiking and outdoor recreation. The couple and their three sons lived in a new development in the town of Francis, about 80 kilometers east of Salt Lake City.

Whether the case goes to trial could largely hinge on an unidentified informant who prosecutors say sold Richins the drugs that medical examiners later found in her husband’s system.

The charging documents and warrants detail interviews in which the informant said she sold hydrocodone and fentanyl from Richins in the weeks and months before her husband’s death. Prosecutors say the drug-buying timeline matches the death of Eric Richins and their allegation that his wife laced the sandwich weeks prior.

After her husband survived the first alleged poisoning, Kouri Richins asked for stronger drugs, “some of the Michael Jackson stuff,” the dealer told investigators, according to prosecutors. When the pop star died of cardiac arrest in 2009, medical examiners found prescription drugs and strong anesthetics in her system, not fentanyl.

Charging documents suggest the case will likely revolve around financial and marital disputes as possible grounds. The couple had argued over whether to buy an unfinished 20,000 square foot (1,860 square meter) mansion nearby and discussed divorce before his death, according to court documents.

Prosecutors also said Kouri Richins made major changes to the family’s estate plans before her husband’s death, taking out life insurance policies on him with benefits totaling nearly $2 million.

They also allege that Richins purchased and spent a $250,000 home equity line of credit, withdrew $100,000 from her husband’s bank accounts, spent over $30,000 on his credit cards and stole approximately 134 $000 for corporate taxes.

Some of the allegations match civil court filings submitted in different cases after Eric Richins’ death in which his blood relatives and his widowed wife filed competing claims over how to split a masonry business with his former partner and whether Kouri Richins can benefit from a trust package. aside for his loved ones.

Greg Skordas, a lawyer and victims’ advocate working with relatives of Eric Richins, said Richins’ three children are staying with a relative while their mother awaits trial. Katie Richins-Benson, who is Eric Richins’ sister and his estate trustee, filed for conservatorship.

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