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Kamas widow accused of killing husband with fentanyl overdose

A toxicology report from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office, however, determined that he ‘died from an overdose of fentanyl’ and that ‘the level of fentanyl in Eric’s system was approximately five times the lethal dosage’

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Salt Lake Police investigate a scene in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. A widow from Kamas, Utah has been accused of murdering her husband by allegedly giving him a fentanyl overdose.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

A Kamas woman who recently published a book to help families deal with the unexpected loss of a loved one, one year after her own husband's death, is now accused of killing him.

Kouri Darden Richins, 33, was charged Monday in Summit County's 3rd District Court with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony.

Her charges and arrest warrant were issued under seal on Monday as Summit County sheriff's deputies went to serve the warrant. The warrant was unsealed Monday afternoon after she was arrested and booked into the Summit County Jail.

Eric Richins, 39, died unexpectedly at his home on March 4, 2022. A toxicology report from the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office, however, determined that he “died from an overdose of fentanyl” and that “the level of fentanyl in Eric’s system was approximately five times the lethal dosage,” according to charging documents.

Eric Richins

Eric Richins

Family photo

But according to one of several search warrant affidavits served in the case, "There was no indication from friends or family or (evidence) on scene that Eric was a drug user or that he had any use or behavioral changes to indicate drug use."

Kouri Richins claimed on March 3, 2022, she and her husband were celebrating a house closing that Kouri had made for her business, the charge state. She told police that she made Eric Richins an alcoholic drink and then went to bed. Kouri says she woke up about 3 a.m. on March 4, 2022, to find her husband was "cold to the touch" and called 911.

But according to the search warrant, members of Eric's family immediately suspected that Kouri Richins had something to do with his death.

"They advised he warned them that if anything happened to him she was to blame. According to a sister, Eric and his wife went to Greece a few years ago and after his wife gave him a drink he became violently ill and called his sister saying he believed his wife had tried to kill him. On Valentine's Day of 2022, his wife brought him a sandwich, which after one bite Eric broke into hives and couldn't breathe," the warrant states.

According to the warrant, Eric Richins' family allegedly told police that Eric was seeking a divorce and had "recently changed his will and life insurance from his wife to his sister.

"Also, according to the family, Eric and his wife were arguing over buying a nearly $2 million property she wanted to 'flip.' He was planning on telling her that he wasn't going to sign the papers. The day after Eric's death, his wife allegedly signed the closing papers on the home. This was the 'celebration' that his wife claimed they were celebrating, was buying the home," the warrant states.

Detectives investigating Eric Richins' death noted inconsistencies in Kouri Richins' statements to them and determined there were messages that had been sent and received during the time she claimed she left her phone to charge next to her bed, and that those messages had been deleted, according to the charges.

Warrants were served on all the electronic devices in the Richins' home and investigators found several messages between Kouri Richins and an acquaintance who detectives learned had a criminal history of drug distribution, the charges state.

On May 2, investigators interviewed the acquaintance who allegedly said that before her husband died, Kouri Richins wanted to buy medication, allegedly for an investor with a back injury, the charges state.

"About two weeks later, (Richins) contacted (the acquaintance) again and said that her investor wanted something stronger and asked for 'some of the Michael Jackson stuff.' The defendant asked specifically for fentanyl," according to the charges.

On Feb. 11, 2022, the acquaintance was able to acquire 15 to 30 fentanyl pills and gave them to Richins for $900, the charges state.

"Three days later, on Feb. 14, 2022, Eric and defendant had a Valentine's Day dinner at their Kamas home. Shortly after the dinner, Eric became very ill. Eric believed that he had been poisoned. Eric told a friend that he thought his wife was trying to poison him," according to the charges.

Two weeks after that, Kouri Richins bought $900 more worth of fentanyl pills, the charges state.

"Six days later, on March 4, 2022, Eric was found dead of a fentanyl overdose," according to the charges.

Earlier this year, Kouri Richins, who has three children with Eric, wrote a children's book that she claims she wrote on how to cope with grief over the loss of a loved one.

"The Richins family has been devastated by the loss of their son and brother, Eric Richins, in March 2022. They hope that justice will be done. The family is thankful to all law enforcement for their efforts in pursuing this matter," Eric Richins' family said in a statement provided to KSL.

Eric Richins' friends described him as a loving father and outdoorsman.

"Eric was one of the hardest workers I ever knew," his friend, Kolby Sagers, told KSL-TV. "He had three boys that he loved more than anything."

Sagers said Richins loved hunting and spending time with family and friends.

"It's been sad without Eric. ... He was a great friend."

Contributing: Debbie Worthen