It seemed like a wife was trying to turn a bad situation into something good. But shortly after a mother wrote a children’s book to help her children grieve their father’s death, authorities arrested her for his murder.
What led to charges against the mother, and what consequences does she face?
A Father of Three Found Dead
Early in the morning on March 4, 2022, authorities were called to the home of Kouri Darden Richins, her husband of nine years Eric Richins, and their three children aged six through ten.
According to reporting by USA Today, Kouri Darden Richins called 911 because she found her husband unresponsive on the floor of their home in Kamas, a small mountain town in Summit County, Utah. She told authorities she made her husband a celebratory drink before bed. They were celebrating the closing of an investment property. She said she then went to sleep in a child’s room who was afraid that night. When she went into her bedroom around 3 a.m., she found her husband on the floor.
Eric Richins was dead. A medical examiner said the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. The father of three had nearly five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system.
What Happened After the Father’s Death?
No immediate charges were filed in the case.
Kouri Darden Richins appeared to continue on with her life. The day after her husband’s death, she signed closing papers on the investment property she said they had planned to buy.
Later, she wrote and published a children’s book about grief. “Are You With Me?” is about a boy who questions whether his father is with him when he is emotional or celebrating a special occasion.
In April 2023, Kouri Darden Richins appeared on Good Things Utah to promote the book which was for sale on Amazon. She said she began researching “to try and understand not only how to grieve as a widow, as a wife, but also with my kids, how to help them, how to help them understand what just happened.”
One month after the appearance on the show, charges were filed in the case. Kouri Darden Richins was charged with her husband’s murder.
Why Was the Wife Charged?
More than a year after Eric Richins’ death, his wife was charged with felony first-degree aggravated murder and three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony.
Authorities believe Kouri Darden Richins purchased fentanyl and added a lethal dose to the before-bed drink she gave to her husband, causing his death.
Investigators found inconsistencies in Kouri Darden Richins’ story, and details about her financial situation led them to believe she is responsible for her husband’s death.
- On the night of her husband’s death, Kouri Darden Richins said she left her phone in her bedroom. An investigation found that her phone had been locked and unlocked several times and had movement during the time she said she wasn’t near it.
- Court documents revealed that Kouri Richins had an outstanding state and federal tax liability of $189,840, owed a hard money lender at least $1,847,760, and owed her husband $514,346.
- Kouri Darden Richins took out almost $2 million in life insurance policies on her husband without his knowledge, according to reporting by KSLTV, an NBC affiliate.
- The couple had been arguing over purchasing a $2 million property that Kouri Darden Richins wanted to flip. Eric Richins had told family members he wasn’t going to sign the closing papers. His wife closed on the house the day after his death.
- In October 2022, Eric Richins consulted a divorce lawyer and an estate planning lawyer without his wife’s knowledge. He changed his will and placed his estate under the control of his sister for the benefit of his three children.
The details led to the arrest of Kouri Darden Richins.
Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida
What Consequences Does the Wife Face?
Kouri Darden Richins faces multiple charges in the state of Utah.
She faces a felony first-degree aggravated murder charge. In Utah, the punishment for the charge is life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Kouri Darden Richins also faces three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute. The charges are a second-degree felony with a possible punishment of one to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Kouri Darden Richins’ next hearing is scheduled for June 12, 2023.
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