An alleged black widow-style murder, conflicting lawsuits, an estate in the crossfire, and the woman at the center of it all who wrote a children’s book about grieving the loss of the loved one she is accused of killing - and now, she won’t face the death penalty if convicted, KSL-TV reports.
Kouri Darden Richins, 34, awaits trial for the murder of her husband, Eric Richins, after he was found dead at the foot of his bed on March 3, 2022. According to the arrest warrant, the medical examiner found the level of illicit fentanyl in Eric’s body to be “approximately five times the lethal dosage.”
Prosecutors allege she slipped the fentanyl into a Moscow Mule drink she mixed for him, the warrant says. Kouri told police she and Eric, 37, had been celebrating the closure of a sale on a $2 million home she wanted to flip, though investigators learned she didn’t close on the sale until the day after Eric’s death.
A year later, she released a book she wrote and self-published, “Are You With Me?” which she said in interviews was meant to help children experiencing grief after losing a loved one, KSL-TV adds.
On August 18, 2023, prosecutors announced that while the charges are eligible for the death penalty in Utah where the alleged murder took place, they have decided to not seek that as a sentence, ABC News says.
“This decision was made in careful consultation with Eric Richins’ father and his two sisters. This matter is therefore a non-capital first-degree felony,” says the notice, filed in the 3rd District Court by the Summit County Attorney’s Office.
It’s a decision that comes after one of Eric’s sisters called Kouri “desperate, greedy and extremely manipulative” during a June hearing, ABC says.
However, Kouri’s defense team point out that investigators failed to find any drugs in the Richin home after Eric died, ABC notes. The attorneys also pointed out that the witness who claimed to have sold the drugs to Kouri had reason to lie, as the woman was facing federal drug charges and wanted leniency.
The attorneys also stated that Kouri was “bad at math” over her growing debt problems before her husband’s death, but it didn’t make her a killer, ABC says.
KPCW previously cited court documents from the lawsuit filed by Eric’s family, which claimed Kouri withdrew $100,000 from Eric’s bank account and spent $30,000 on his credit cards. She also allegedly owed around $134,346 in taxes, and was apparently around $6 million in debt at the end of 2021.
Kouri was denied bail last month and remains in prison, charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, and one charge of first-degree aggravated murder, KPCW says.
KSl-TV notes that Kouri’s next court appearance is September 1, 2023.