By Raja Razek | CNN
Kouri Richins, the Utah widow accused of killing her husband with a fentanyl overdose and then writing a children’s book about grief, is accused of witness tampering, according to court documents obtained by CNN.
Richins faces murder and drug charges for allegedly poisoning Eric Richins with an overdose of fentanyl given to him in a drink the night he died. She has not yet entered a plea in the case and remains in custody, CNN previously reported.
On September 14, authorities searched her jail cell and discovered a six-page handwritten letter to her mother, Lisa Darden, with instructions for her brother to “testify falsely,” according to a motion for no contact order filed in a Utah court.
“The letter instructs Lisa Darden to induce the Defendant’s brother, Ronald Darden, who is Lisa Darden’s son, to testify falsely in this matter,” the court document states. “The letter claims that defense counsel, ‘wants to link Eric (Richins) getting drugs and pills from Mexico’ to the fentanyl that caused his death.”
Richins “concocts a false narrative for Ronald Darden to repeat whereby, ‘Eric told Ronney that he got Pain Pills and fentanyl from Mexico from the workers at the ranch,’” according to the motion.
The court document states that the letter is witness tampering.
“A person is guilty of the third degree felony of tampering with a witness if, believing that an official proceeding or investigation is pending … he attempts to induce or otherwise cause another person to: (a) testify or inform falsely,” the motion reads, citing Utah law.
The state is currently investigating, according to the document, and it is “currently unclear” if she passed the exact letter or its content to her mother or anyone else.
Separately, the motion also refers to an incident on a video conference call last week.
“Significantly, on the morning of September 13, 2023, on a video conference with Lisa Darden, the Defendant held up yet another letter for her mother to read silently to herself. That letter was not found inside the Defendant’s cell,” the motion reads. “There is a strong inference that the September 13, 2023, letter was destroyed or flushed.”
Richins’ defense filed a separate motion arguing that the state’s public filing of the alleged handwritten letter was improper and violated the gag order in the case. The defense wrote that the state “wholly misconstrues the contents of the letter and alleges witness tampering without a legitimate or good faith basis.”
Eric Richins, 39, was found dead at the foot of the couple’s bed in March 2022. An autopsy and toxicology report showed he had about five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system, according to a medical examiner.
Richins told investigators at the time that she brought her husband a Moscow Mule cocktail in the bedroom of their Kamas, Utah, home, then left to sleep with their son in his room. She said she returned around 3 a.m. to find her husband lying on the floor, cold to the touch.
Around a year to the day after her husband died, Richins published a children’s book, “Are You With Me?” about navigating grief after the loss of a loved one.
CNN has reached out to Kouri Richins’s attorney, Lisa Darden and Ronald Darden for comment.