PARK CITY, Utah (NewsNation) — Kouri Richins, the Utah mom accused of killing her husband, then writing a children’s book about grief, was denied bail during a detention hearing Monday.
Judge Richard Mrazik said the state demonstrated “clear and convincing evidence that the defendant would pose a substantial danger to the community if put on bail.”
Kouri Richins, 33, is charged with murder and drug possession. Prosecutors say Kouri Richins slipped her husband Eric five times the lethal dose of illegal fentanyl inside a Moscow Mule amid marital disputes over a multimillion-dollar mansion she ultimately purchased as an investment property.
Then, authorities say, the mother of three self-published an illustrated book about an angelic father watching his sons called “Are You With Me?” and promoted it on TV stations across Utah.
Prosecutors say Kouri Richins made significant changes to the family’s estate plans before her husband’s death and took out life insurance policies on him, with benefits totaling nearly $2 million.
In a motion her lawyers filed Friday calling for her release, they said there is no evidence Kouri Richins would have financially benefited from the death of her husband. Saying she shouldn’t have to wait out her trial in jail, Kouri Richins’ attorney argued the state cannot back up the charges against her and that police never seized fentanyl from the family home.
Investigators, Kouri Richins’ lawyers said, failed to look into the possibility that Eric died of an accidental overdose.
Detective Jeff O’Driscoll testified Monday, talking about drugs authorities believed were used to kill Eric Richins. As he spoke, Kouri Richins could be seen crying as prosecutors talked about the night her husband died.
The prosecution asked O’Driscoll about text messages between Kouri Richins and her best friend, in which she claimed she performed CPR on her husband before emergency services arrived.
In those text messages, Kouri Richins said, “I pumped so damn hard, so hard screaming at him to come back to life.”
But O’Driscoll told the court that when emergency services arrived and did CPR compressions on Eric Richins, he began to foam at the mouth — an indication CPR was not conducted.
Based on interviews with those who knew Eric Richins well, including his two best friends, O’Driscoll said police learned he did not use illicit drugs, other than “consuming THC gummies” on occasion.
The state’s attorney asked O’Driscoll about C.L., an employee of Kouri Richins’ who was allegedly the one who gave her the fentanyl. C.L., according to Kouri Richins’ lawyer, cleaned the family’s personal home, as well as investment properties Kouri Richins’ had as part of her business.
At one point, O’Driscol said, Kouri Richins used a check to pay C.L. around the time she also allegedly asked for fentanyl.
Skye Lazaro, Richins’ defense attorney, pointed out the check C.L. was given was from Richins’ business account.
“So it could very well be that Kouri was paying her for cleaning houses, correct?” she asked O’Driscoll, who responded that he didn’t want to speculate.
One witness prosecutors brought, Financial Forensics investigator Brooke Karrington, combed through years of bank transactions and business loans, and revealed Monday that Kouri Richins was in a mountain of debt.
But Lazaro argued that all this proved was that her client was “bad at math.”
“Being bad with money does not make you a murderer,” Lazaro said.
Eric Richins’ sister, Amy, gave a victim’s impact statement in court, saying her brother’s life was taken in a “senseless act of poisoning.”
While Amy Richins said Eric was an “attentive and loving” father, as well as a devoted husband, in the same statement, she called her sister-in-law desperate, greedy and “extremely manipulative.”
The Associated Press and NewsNation local affiliate KTVX contributed to this report.