Woman accused of killing husband, then writing kids’ book about grief, is denied bail

A judge said on Monday that the Utah mother of three, who was accused of fatally poisoning her husband and coping with grief over his death, will remain in jail for the duration of her trial on charges of drug and murder. She later wrote a children’s book about dealing with grief.

Eric Richins, the husband of the deceased, was accused by prosecutors of denying the sufficient evidence against him. Detective Kouri testified that Richins appeared emotionally detached and lowered her head as she cried upon discovering her husband’s lifeless body.

Richins’ comments about the book, which presents itself as a resource for children coping with grief, underwent thorough examination. The captivatingly illustrated storybook, titled “Are You With Me?”, Depicts a father adorned with angel wings who continues to watch over his children even after his passing. This publication became the center of attention for a captivated audience when legal accusations were brought forward, transforming the case into a highly sensationalized true-crime event last month.

During Monday’s detention hearing, both attorneys and prosecutors provided contrasting theories of the case, offering a preview of Richins’ and her husband’s alleged plot to kill him by purchasing drugs and making financial arrangements. Richins, a forensic accountant and private investigator, was painted as a calculating individual who carefully plotted her husband’s death in March 2022.

To market her book and portray herself as an exceptional mother, Kouri Richins closely observed the family’s distressing situation and accused Eric of deliberately poisoning. Amy Richins, Eric’s sister, who was described as highly manipulative and greedy, read a statement in court that highlighted the impact on the victim.

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“How can anyone place such a low value on human life? I cannot understand it,” she expressed.

Following the demise, there were no substances discovered at the residence of the family, and the primary informant for the state, the domestic worker who alleges to have supplied Richins with the substances, had a motive to deceive as she sought leniency while dealing with drug accusations from both state and federal authorities. The legal representatives of Richins contended that the proof against her was both questionable and indirect.

“They provided evidence to her, essentially, until she got it right,” Skye Lazaro, Richins’ attorney, said of police interviews with the housekeeper.

While handcuffed, Richins shook her head in defiance as prosecutors questioned the detective about the claims made by the housekeeper who suggested that she sold fentanyl weeks before they found it in her husband’s system. They also suggested that she made a flight with her family’s “bug” bags full of passports and emergency provisions, deeming it an unsuitable risk.

They interrogated the private detective about the browsing history for “upscale penitentiary for wealthy individuals” as she let out a frustrated sigh, encompassing all the information on her electronic devices, including the details revealed on death certificates.

With family members from both sides seated, the forensic accountant was questioned in the court gallery about Richins’ personal financial hardships and the substantial amount of money involved in her husband’s estate.

Chief County Prosecutor Patricia Cassell stated, “Eric, who wanted someone dead, is the one behind all of that. It’s a significant situation. The lethal dose is not accidental, it could be five times or even twenty times more than that. It’s possible that two pills or even one pill could be accidental.”

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During the detention hearing, according to court documents, Richins is accused of slipping a deadly amount of fentanyl into a Moscow mule cocktail made for her husband, amidst marital conflicts and disputes, and as an investment, she eventually bought a multimillion-dollar mansion.

This is crazy. He just dies in his sleep. My husband is active. As part of the investigation, witnesses allege that she made him a sandwich laced with hydrocodone on Valentine’s Day, repeatedly denying involvement on the day of his death in March 2022. Court documents paint a picture of a conniving woman who tried to poison her husband multiple times, including during their vacation in Greece weeks before his death.

In court filings, attorneys said that Eric Richins’ family accepted the narrative that his wife had poisoned him, and they worked backward in an effort to support their theory about spending by investigating for 14 months and finding no evidence.

Lazaro said that the prosecution’s case was based on Richins’ financial motives, proving that she was not guilty of murder but only bad at math.

“Being irresponsible with finances does not make you a killer,” Lazaro stated.

As per the legal documents submitted to the court, the pair had a disagreement regarding the acquisition of an incomplete, 20,000-square-foot estate in the neighboring town of Midway. This lawsuit has brought attention to Kamas, Utah, a farming community situated on the outskirts of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, close to Park City, a well-liked spot for skiing, hiking, and outdoor activities. The family, consisting of the couple and their three sons, resided in a recently built neighborhood in the town of Francis, approximately 50 miles to the east of Salt Lake City.

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If the case goes to trial, disputes around marital and financial issues will likely revolve around possible motives as prosecutors argue that Richins Kouri made major changes to her husband’s life insurance policies, totaling nearly $2 million in benefits, before his death. Additionally, the estate’s plans for the family’s real estate may be a factor in the arguments.

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