SALT LAKE CITY –
Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a Utah mother who wrote a children’s book about coping with grief after her husband’s death and is now accused of fatally poisoning him.
Prosecutors say Kouri Richins, 33, poisoned Eric Richins, 39, by slipping five times the lethal dose of fentanyl into a Moscow mule cocktail she made for him last year.
After her husband’s death, the mother of three self-published a children’s book titled “Are You with Me?” about a deceased father wearing angel wings who watched over his sons. She promoted the book on television and radio, describing the book as a way to help children grieve the loss of a loved one.
Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty after conferring with the victim’s father and two sisters, according to a court filing Friday.
Following a June hearing in which Richins’ sister-in-law called her “desperate, greedy and extremely manipulative,” a judge has ordered that Richins remain in jail pending trial.
Prosecutors say Richins planned at length to kill her husband, making financial arrangements and purchasing drugs found in his system after his March 2022 death.
Richins’ attorneys point out that no drugs were found at the family home after her husband’s death. They’ve also suggested that a witness, a housekeeper who claims to have sold Richins the drugs, had motivation to lie as she sought leniency in the face of state and federal drug charges.
Richins made major changes to the family’s estate plans and took out life insurance policies on him with benefits totalling nearly US$2 million, prosecutors allege. Her attorneys counter that the prosecution’s case based on financial motives proved she was “bad at math,” not guilty of murder.
Richins, meanwhile, is facing a lawsuit seeking over US$13 million in damages for alleged financial wrongdoing before and after his death.
The lawsuit filed in state court by Katie Richins, the sister of Eric Richins, accuses Kouri Richins of taking money from her husband’s accounts, diverting money intended to pay his taxes and obtaining a fraudulent loan, among other things, before his death.