Prosecutors say a letter written by Kouri Richins, a Kamas woman charged with killing her husband, asks her mother and brother to give false testimony at her trial.

The six-page handwritten letter to her mother was found inside a book during a search of Richins' cell in the Summit County Jail on Thursday. The letter instructs her mother and brother to provide false testimony in the case, according to a motion filed in court Friday.

"This comes down to jealousy, money and Eric's partying that they don't want to acknowledge, and sadly an accidental overdose," the letter says.

Prosecutors have asked the judge to restrict Richins from "further engaging in witness tampering" by restricting her from contacting her mother and brother.

Richins, 33, is charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony. Charging documents say she administered a fatal dose of fentanyl to her husband, Eric Richins, 39. She was not charged until over a year after her husband's death on March 4, 2022. During that year, she wrote and published a children's book about dealing with grief.

Third District Judge Richard Mrazik denied her the opportunity for bail, ruling that there is "substantial evidence" to support the aggravated murder charge.

'Walk the dog!!' letter

Defense attorney Skye Lazaro quickly filed another brief accusing prosecutors of breaching a gag order in the case when they filed the letter titled "Walk the dog!!" as part of their motion.

Scrawled across the top of the six-page letter are the words "Walk The Dog!! But take vague notes so you remember." The letter expresses a desire to link Eric Richins getting drugs from Mexico to the fentanyl that caused his death. In the letter, Kouri Richins allegedly wants her brother to say Eric Richins told him he got pain pills and fentanyl from Mexico through workers at a ranch.

In the letter, she said the testimony "can be short and to the point but has to be done." She asked her mother, Lisa Darden, to pass the information to her brother in person, saying her mother's home and phone could be bugged.

The letter notes that Lazaro plans to test gummies that are evidence in the case for fentanyl.

"Skye is saying even if the gummies have fentanyl in them, the prosecutor will say I tried to put the fentanyl in the gummies so Eric would have them. Stupid I know but that's what she's thinking. We will still test them, though." the letter says, adding that Lazaro's private investigator is researching a ranch where Eric Richins stayed.

The letter says the testimony of Richins' brother, Ronald Darden (Ronney), could make the connection. The letter presents a story or scenario of an apparent testimony that starts with: "Upon information and belief: (Just like they say).

"A year prior to Eric's death, Ronney was over watching football one Sunday and Eric and Ronney were chatting about Eric's Mexico trips. Eric told Ronney he gets pain pills and fentanyl from Mexico from the workers at the ranch," the letter states. "Not to tell me because I would get mad because I always said he just gets high every night and won't help take care of the kids."

Richins' letter says there are pictures on her phone of her husband passed out on the floor or in a chair, and that her brother "should have texts" from her husband talking about getting high.

Prosecutors have accused Kouri Richins, a Kamas woman charged with killing her husband, of asking her mother and brother to give false testimony at her trial after finding this letter in her cell at the Summit County Jail.
Prosecutors have accused Kouri Richins, a Kamas woman charged with killing her husband, of asking her mother and brother to give false testimony at her trial after finding this letter in her cell at the Summit County Jail. | Screenshot

The letter also says Eric Richins eventually told his wife about the fentanyl and asked if she could help get him some.

"Eric never wanted anyone to know he had an issue especially get caught, he always wanted Kouri to go down for him. When they traveled, Eric would put his drugs in Kouri's bag at the airlines right before they boarded," the letter says.

A judge did say after a hearing about bail that there was evidence that Eric Richins was known to use illicit drugs.

"Reword this however he needs to, to make the point. Just include it all," the letter says. "The connection has to be made with Mexico and drugs," the letter said, before reiterating that pain pills and fentanyl were not found in the house because Eric Richins hid them in his work truck which was emptied shortly after his death.

She tells her mother in the letter to take "vague notes" so she can remember the contents "before you walk the dog."

Prosecutors said it is unclear whether Kouri Richins had passed this letter to her mother or anyone else, but said during a video conference Wednesday, Kouri Richins held up a separate letter for her mother to read.

"That letter was not found inside the defendant's cell," the motion says. "There is a strong inference that the Sept. 13, 2023, letter was destroyed or flushed."

Gag order

In her motion asking the court to rule that prosecutors were in contempt of court, Lazaro said filing the "walk the dog letter" on the public docket is an "extrajudicial statement made for the apparent purpose of influencing the court of opinion."

The attorney called it a "blatant violation" of a gag order issued in the case on June 2.

Lazaro said prosecutors asked for the gag order to ensure a fair trail, and they would know something filed with the court would be public information because the case is followed by local and global media organizations.

She also said the letter might have been found through an illegal search, because it was stored in an envelope titled, "Skye Lazaro (Attorney Privilege)." She said these envelopes can only be inspected to determine if they hold contraband, and such a letter would not count as contraband.

Lazaro issued a subpoena to the jail, asking it for surveillance of the jail depicting Richins between Sept. 12 and Sept. 14, including audio and video of a body search following a meeting with her attorney on Thursday when she was holding that envelope. The attorney also asked for a list of employees who were on duty during that time.

Other requests in the letter

The letter found in Richins' cell also asks her mom to tell someone named Lotto not to text her. "Tell him do not text me anything about us doing things together ever! Like church, skiing trips! Nothing that puts us together, it doesn't look good."

The letter also talks about mortgages, and she asks her mother to see if a company is able to help with mortgages. She lists a few mortgages that need to be "taken care of ASAP," and said Lotto could perhaps provide a loan or take out a home equity line of credit on his house.

"If he wants to help me, taking care of these loans is most important," she said.

The letter also encourages her mother to "get at Katie," her sister-in-law, by sending pictures of her girls to media companies anonymously which would make her "livid."

Katie Richins-Bensen filed a multimillion-dollar wrongful death lawsuit against Kouri Richins after the criminal charges were filed.

The letter also encourages Kouri Richins' mother to have others talk about Eric Richins putting drugs in her suitcase when traveling, Eric Richins "looking for drugs" when he was is Spain, and about how "the sisters" have been jealous of her because she had a successful career.

"We're so close to the end. Let's push through," the letter says.

Richins' hospital visit

On Friday, Summit County prosecutors also issued a subpoena asking for medical records for a similar timeframe, between Tuesday and Thursday, from Park City Medical Center.

The state asked for physician's notes, X-rays, prescriptions given and the results from any blood draws.

Lazaro filed motions to make that request for a subpoena private and to quash the subpoena.

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Richins' attorney said she has not given permission for the Summit County Attorney's Office to have her medical records.

Lazaro's motion says her client was transported to Park City Medical Center on Tuesday "and/or" Wednesday, and was kept in "observation" or a small cell with no windows and a mattress on the floor, until the following afternoon.

"Ms. Richins was not allowed to make any calls, including to counsel, despite her request to do so," Lazaro said.

She argued that any information prosecutors receive from the subpoena should not be admitted into evidence.

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