COURTS & LEGAL

Kouri Richins in court for potential violation of separate plea deal

Mar 19, 2024, 1:26 PM | Updated: 2:36 pm

PARK CITY — Kouri Richins, a Utah author accused of fatally poisoning her husband with fentanyl, was in court on Tuesday after prosecutors said she violated a plea deal on an assault charge she obtained after her husband’s death.

Richins is facing murder and drug-related charges after the death of her husband. However, Tuesday’s hearing only addressed the plea deal stemming from a domestic violence assault charge after she allegedly punched her sister-in-law in 2022.

According to court documents, Richins hired a locksmith three days after her husband’s death to get into his safe. The safe held between $125,000 and $165,000 in cash.

Eric Richins’ sister found Kouri Richins trying to get into the safe and informed her that she didn’t have the right to the funds in the safe. According to her, Eric Richins had removed Kouri Richins’ name from his $500,000 life insurance policy and was no longer named in his will. Eric Richins’ instead replaced Kouri Richins with his sister as beneficiary, unbeknownst to his wife in October 2020.

“Eric Richins proceeded to change his will, formed the Eric Richins Living Trust, and placed his estate under the control of his sister for the primary benefit of his three minor children,” the document states.

Kouri Richins “became enraged and punched Eric Richins’ sister in the face and neck.” Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and called Eric Richins’ estate planning lawyer. The lawyer confirmed the existence of the Eric Richins Living Trust and the beneficiary as his sister.

Detectives: Kouri Richins’ mother had a romantic partner who also died of ‘suspicious overdose’ in 2006

Court documents also detail at least four separate life insurance policies that Kouri Richins opened without her husband’s knowledge between 2015 and 2017 that totaled $1.9 million.

In January 2022, just months before her husband’s death in March, she made herself the beneficiary of another life insurance policy Eric Richins had set to benefit his business partner. The policy totaled $2 million, according to a court document. The company alerted Eric Richins to the change though, and he switched it back to his business partner. It is unclear from the document whether Kouri Richins knew it had been reverted at the time.

Kouri Richins was charged later with assault and entered into a plea in abeyance in February 2023. In the details of her plea deal, Kouri Richins was ordered to pay a $1,105 fee, complete a “thinking errors” or “grief counseling” course and provide the court with receipts from treatment within 90 days. Under state law, charges are dismissed after the abeyance period so that there is no conviction on a person’s record.

According to Third District Court Judge Brenden McCullagh, the court did not receive payment or receipts for the class completion. Tuesday’s hearing concluded with the scheduling of an additional evidentiary hearing because the plea deal was made just months before she was arrested and accused of murdering her husband.

Kouri Richins attorney, Skye Lazaro said during the hearing that Kouri Richins had been engaged in a grief counseling course at the time, but did not specify for how long or provide any receipts.

The possible consequence for violating a plea deal in this case is 6 months of jail time. However, Kouri Richins is already being held behind bars without bail for the murder charges she faces.


Contributing: Karah Brackin, KSL TV

 

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Kouri Richins in court for potential violation of separate plea deal