Kouri Richins gets new attorneys for ‘indigent defense’

Posted at 5:22 PM, May 24, 2024 and last updated 9:58 AM, May 24, 2024

PARK CITY, Utah (Court TV) — Kouri Richins appeared in court Friday as a judge named two new attorneys to represent her in her murder case.

Kouri Richins sits in court

Kouri Richins, 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, looks on during a hearing Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

Kouri is charged with murder and financial crimes after allegedly spiking her husband’s cocktail with a lethal dose of fentanyl. Eric Richins, Kouri’s husband, had previously accused her of trying to kill him by poisoning him.

Friday’s hearing came after her team of attorneys, led by Skye Lazaro, filed a motion to withdraw from the case, citing an “irreconcilable and nonwaivable situation” that came to light after a previous hearing held on May 15. Court documents reviewed by Court TV indicate Wendy Lewis and Kathy Nester were named as Kouri’s new attorneys at a closed hearing on May 22.

A clue to Kouri’s attorneys’ departure arose at the end of Friday’s hearing when prosecutors noted the appearance of outside counsel in the courtroom, who had been brought in to “advise the county on their duties as an indigent defense system.” If true, that may indicate that Kouri ran out of money to pay her attorneys, in part because of allegations of fraud that have resulted from the investigation into Eric’s murder.

READ MORE | Kouri Richins’ defense withdraws, wants prosecution disqualified

Despite an order at the May 22 hearing for the jail to temporarily not allow any interviews with Kouri until she had representation, NBC’s Dateline announced one day later that it had received recorded statements from Kouri that she made in jail.

In the recordings sent to Dateline, Kouri accuses the prosecution of taking “an innocent mom away from her babies,” adding, “This means war.” On losing her defense team, Kouri said, “My defense team has been forced to withdraw from my case. Represented or not, we should all know and understand there’s only so much I can say. But what I will say is this withdrawal was not my choice, and it was not a personal choice of any counsel on my defense team.”

Kouri’s new attorneys said they plan to meet with their client next week and will appear with her in court for a scheduling conference in June.