A Utah mother of three who wrote a children’s book about coping with grief after her husband’s death, and was later accused of fatally poisoning him, will remain in jail for the duration of her trial on murder and drug charges, a judge said Monday.
Kouri Richins knelt her head and cried on Monday as a detective testified about authorities finding her husband dead and “cold to the touch,” and prosecutors argued the evidence against her was strong enough to deny her bail.
Her case became a true-crime sensation last month when charges were filed as a transfixed public pored over “Are You With Me?” — the illustrated storybook about an angel wing-clad father watching over his children after passing away — and scrutinized remarks Richins made promoting the book as a tool to help children grieve.
Monday’s detention hearing offered both prosecutors and Richins’ attorneys a chance to preview their cases and provide contrasting theories of the case. Prosecutors called to the stand a detective, a private investigator and a forensic accountant who painted a picture of Richins as having calculatingly plotted to kill her husband, making financial arrangements and purchasing drugs found in his system after his March 2022 death.
Richins’ attorneys argued the evidence against her was both dubious and circumstantial, noting that no drugs were found at the family home after the death and suggesting the state’s star witness — the 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.
“They provided evidence to her, essentially, until she got it right,” Skye Lazaro, Richins’ attorney, said of police interview with the housekeeper.
While a handcuffed Richins shook her head in defiance, prosecutors questioned the detective about the housekeeper who claims to have sold her fentanyl weeks before it was found in her husband’s system and the family’s “bug out bags” full of emergency provisions and passports they suggested made her a flight risk unsuitable for bail.
And with members of both sides of the family sitting in the court gallery behind them, they asked the forensic accountant about Richins’ personal financial struggles and the millions of dollars at stake in her husband’s estate.
“One or two pills might be accident. Twenty — or five times the lethal dose — is not accidental. That is a lot. That is someone who wanted Eric dead,” Summit County Chief Prosecutor Patricia Cassell said.
“Being bad with money does not make you a murderer,” Lazaro said.
The case has shined a spotlight on the communities on backside of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains near Park City, one of the American West’s preeminent destinations for skiing, hiking and outdoor recreation. The couple and their three sons lived in a new development in the town of Francis, roughly 50 miles east of Salt Lake City. They argued over whether to purchase an unfinished, 20,000-square-foot mansion in nearby Midway Utah, according to court filings.