Prosecutors accuse Kouri Richins of witness tampering

Posted at 7:00 AM, September 18, 2023 and last updated 9:29 PM, September 18, 2023

By: Laura Polacheck

SALT LAKE CITY (Scripps News Salt Lake City) — Prosecutors are claiming Kouri Richins engaged in witness tampering, according to new court filings.

The filings cite a six-page, handwritten letter to Kouri’s mother, Lisa Darden, allegedly instructing her to have Kouri’s brother, Ronald Darden, falsely testify that her late husband received drugs and pills from Mexico, causing his death. The letter was found when Summit County deputies searched Kouri’s cell block.

A woman in a blue shirt and hair in a messy bun sits in court

Kouri Richins appeared in court for a scheduling conference on Sept. 1, 2023. (Scripps News Salt Lake City)

In the letter, Kouri says to instruct her brother to repeat, “Eric told Ronney that he got pain pills and fentanyl from Mexico from workers on the ranch.”

She also added, “Reword this however he needs to, to make the point. Just include it all.”

Kouri told her mother that she should convey to the instruction to her brother in person because she worries that her mother’s “house and phone are bugged.”

The State also alleges that in a September 13 video conference, Kouri held up a letter for her mother to read silently, which they believe was flushed or destroyed.

In its motion filed Friday, the State argues that “it is imperative” that Kouri has no contact with her mother or brother because of this letter, which constitutes witness tampering.

Kouri’s attorney has filed a motion alleging that the state violated its gag order by filing the letter, and that this information now taints the prospective jury pool and prevents Kouri’s right to a fair trial.

Kouri, 33, is charged with the murder of her husband, Eric Richins, who passed away in March 2022.

Eric’s cause of death was determined as a fentanyl overdose — with five times the lethal dosage in his system. Investigators learned that Kouri had purchased fentanyl pills just days before her husband’s death. She told police at the time of his death that she made him a mixed drink that night before they went to bed.


This story was originally published by Scripps News Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.