CRIME

Kamas woman accused of killing husband took $2M in life insurance policies, police say

May 19, 2023, 12:13 PM | Updated: May 20, 2023, 3:13 pm

This photo provided by KPCW.org shows Kouri Richins at the KPCW studio in Park City, Utah, April 12...

This photo provided by KPCW.org shows Kouri Richins at the KPCW studio in Park City, Utah, April 12, 2023. Richins was arrested on Monday, May 8, in Utah and is accused in charging documents of poisoning her husband with a lethal dose of fentanyl at their home in Kamas, a small mountain town near Park City. (KPCW.org via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(KPCW.org via AP)

PARK CITY, Utah — Amended charges against a Kamas woman accused of killing her husband with fentanyl now allege she owed millions in debt and took out almost $2 million in life insurance policies on her husband before his death, without his knowledge.

Kouri Darden Richins, 33, recently published a book to help families deal with the unexpected loss of a loved one, but one year after her own husband’s death, she is now accused of killing him.

She was originally charged May 8 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.

New details in the case emerged Thursday as the charges were amended by the Summit County Attorney’s Office.

Eric Richins, 39, died unexpectedly at his home on March 4, 2022. A toxicology report from the state medical examiner 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 charges filed earlier this month.

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

The new allegations released Thursday detail a history of financial disagreements between the couple and alleged deception on Kouri Richins’ part.

A detention hearing was originally scheduled for Friday. According to a court order, the hearing has been pushed back to June 12 at the request of Kouri Richins’ attorneys to give them time to review and prepare for the hearing with the additional allegations.

New allegations

The Richins created a premarital agreement on June 15, 2013, saying neither person had rights to each other’s present or future income, property or assets “except if Eric Richins died while the two were lawfully married, Eric Richins’ partnership interest in his business would transfer to (Kouri Richins),” the amended charges state.

In September 2020, Eric Richins discovered his wife obtained and spent $250,000 on a home equity line of credit for the home that Eric Richins owned before their marriage in Kamas, according to the amended charges. She had also withdrawn more than $100,000 from his bank accounts and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards, investigators said.

Kouri Richins had also “been appropriating distributions made from Eric Richins’ business for the purpose of making federal and state quarterly tax payments and not paying the taxes. The stolen tax payments totaled at least $134,346,” the charges state. Eric Richins confronted his wife about this, and she agreed to repay him, police said.

Eric Richins (Family photo)

Eric Richins consulted a divorce lawyer and an estate planning lawyer in October 2020, without Kouri Richins’ knowledge, and changed his will to form the “Eric Richins Living Trust,” investigators say in the amended charges. This placed his estate under the control of his sister for the benefit of his three children, and it transferred his partnership interest in his business to the trust. It also designated the trust as the beneficiary of a $500,000 life insurance policy instead of his wife, charging documents state.

Kouri Richins, without Eric’s knowledge, purchased at least four life insurance policies on her husband’s life between 2015 and 2017, amounting to $1,947,000, according to the charges. These policies were purchased prior to the trust being formed, and Eric Richins did not disclose the policies to his estate planning attorney as he did not know about them, according to investigators.

The charging document said Eric Richins and his business partner both had life insurance policies with one another listed as beneficiaries. On Jan. 1, 2022, Kouri Richins changed the beneficiary for Eric Richins’ $2 million life insurance policy to herself, but the business partner was restored as the beneficiary after the change came to Eric Richins’ attention, the charges state.

Later that month, Kouri Richins filed an application for a new $100,000 life insurance policy on her husband’s life and it was issued on Feb. 4, 2022, a month before his death, police said.

Just a week later, Kouri Richins obtained illicit fentanyl, charging documents said. Detectives discovered Kouri Richins paid $900 for fentanyl pills on Feb. 11, 2022, then paid another $900 for more pills two weeks later, according to court documents.

According to a search warrant filed in the case, members of Eric Richin’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.

“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.

Charges detail alleged debt

Days before her husband’s death, Kouri Richins had an outstanding state and federal tax liability of $189,840; she owed a hard money lender at least $1,847,760; and she owed her husband $514,346, according to the amended charges. On March 3, 2022, hours before her husband’s death, Kouri Richins had a “lengthy” telephone call with the IRS, and she talked to her hard money lender, police said.

The amended charges also say that Kouri Richins had a locksmith drill her husband’s safe two days after his death; the safe contained between $125,000 and $165,000 in cash, according to investigators.

Eric Richins’ sister suggested Kouri Richins did not have the authority to open the safe because of the trust, which the sister said enraged Kouri, leading to her punching the sister-in-law in the face and neck, the charges allege.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and contacted Eric Richins’ estate planning lawyer. This is when Kouri Richins first learned of the existence of the Eric Richins Living Trust, charging documents state.

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Kamas woman accused of killing husband took $2M in life insurance policies, police say