State alleges witness tampering by Kouri Richins, woman accused of poisoning her husband

Posted at 8:57 PM, Sep 17, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — An explosive new court filing by the State of Utah alleges that Kouri Richins, the woman accused of poisoning her husband with fentanyl, engaged in witness tampering.

According to the filing, Summit County deputies searched her cell block and found a six-page, handwritten note to her mother, Lisa Darden, instructing her to have Ronald Darden, Kouri's brother, to falsely testify that her deceased husband, Eric, received drugs and pills from Mexico causing his death.

In the letter, Kouri says to instruct her brother to repeat, "Eric told [redacted name] that he got Pain Pills and fentanyl from Mexico from workers on the ranch."

She also added that "[Redacted name] can reword [the narrative] however he needs to, but is super short not a lot to it."

Richins told her mother that she should convey to the instruction to her brother in person because she worries that her mother's "house and phone are bugged."

The State also alleges that in a September 13 video conference Richins held with her mother, she held up a letter for her mother to read silently, which they believe was flushed or destroyed.

Richins, 33, was charged with the murder of Eric who passed away in March 2022.

Eric's cause of death was determined as a fentanyl overdose — with five times the lethal dosage in his system. Investigators learned that Kouri had purchased fentanyl pills just days before her husband's death. She told police at the time of his death that she made him a mixed drink that night before they went to bed.

In its motion filed Friday, the state argues that "it is imperative" that Richins has no contact with her mother or brother because of this letter, which constitutes witness tampering.

Richins' attorney has filed a motion alleging that the state violated its gag order by filing the letter, and that this information now taints the prospective jury pool and prevents Richins' right to a fair trial.