SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Prosecutors say Kouri Richins’ was writing instructions to her family on how to testify in court. Richins’ lawyers say she’s writing a “fictional book.” Either way, the prosecutors say they now want the whole manuscript — all 65 pages’ worth.
Richins, a Summit County woman behind bars for the alleged murder of her husband, Eric, through fentanyl poisoning, is currently in jail awaiting trial. Last month, jail officials found a paper that appeared to prosecutors to be telling her family members how they should testify in court.
This week, prosecutors asked the court to compel Richins and her attorneys to turn over the rest of the so-called “Walk the Dog” document, which may contain another 60 to 65 pages. However, new court documents this week include a transcript of a phone call Richins made in jail to a family member explaining the controversy.
Novel or not?
The document has become a flashpoint in the case, but Richins’ attorneys claim the document is a fictional mystery novel in which Richins ends up jumping bail and going to Mexico. It is unclear how much of the book was written in prison.
Summit County Sheriff’s deputies seized part of the document on Sept. 14, finding it in an LSAT test preparation book. Later that day, court documents state Richins passed another 60 pages to her defense counsel, Skye Lazaro. Deputies did not search the manila envelope with the other pages.
In phone calls made over the following days, Richins told her mother, Lisa Darden, and her brother, Ronald Darden, about the book. In both conversations, as noted in court documents, she notes that the ‘Walk the Dog’ letter was simply one page of the full book to be called “To Hell and Back.”
The manila envelope supposedly containing the book had been labeled “privileged” by Richins before handing it to her attorneys. Prosecutors say fictional works are not protected by attorney-client privilege, however.
During this first week of October, court documents state prosecutors met with the defense to discuss the book. Prosecutors claim they reached an agreement that the defense would provide the manila envelope and the pages within, though they now say that has not happened.
“The [Walk the Dog] Letter is the defendant’s frantic, dishonest attempt to explain how Eric Richins may have obtained illicit drugs when all available evidence establishes that she, in fact, obtained the fatal fentanyl,” stated prosecutors in their petition to the court. “The WTD Letter illustrates the defendant’s consciousness of guilt. There is every reason to believe that the remaning 60 pages of the Fictional Manuscript are as equally valuable as the WTD Letter.”
Prosecutors say they want the manuscript before Richins’ next hearing on Nov. 3. You can read the prosecutors’ petition to the court below:
Transcript of call to brother
Court documents also include a transcript of a phone call between Richins and her brother, Ronald Darden, from Sept. 19.
In that transcript, Richins complains of unfair treatment both in how deputies obtained the Walk the Dog letter, and also in penalties for having it in her cell in the first place. She claims in the call she has had her phone calls limited to “voice only and only handwritten letters out, 90 days.”
She also said she was on 30 days of “lockdown 23 hours a day, no commissary.”
“Well, and they keep saying it’s a letter,” stated Richins. “It was never a letter. Like, it was part of a freakin’ book. Like, it was never a letter.”
Richins describes the story in her phone call. After jumping bail, she and her father (which she noted has been dead for two years) go to Mexico to a ranch where Eric Richins had previously stayed. While there, they find the people who sold Eric Richins the fentanyl that killed him. They also realize that human trafficking is happening at the ranch. They attempt to return to America, where Richins is arrested for fleeing the country.
“And then I get out of Mexico jail and then the trial starts and I write about the trial, who’s testifying,” Richins stated. “Like, they literally took that — those papers out of the story.”
“Oh my God. Are you serious?” Ronald Darden replied.
“Yes. That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s a 65-page novel. They read the whole thing. And on the front of the novel — this is the worst part. On the front of the book, it literally says, ‘These are true events that have happened in my life’…” Richins went on to say the events were falsified for a fiction novel.
During the call, Richins notes how in the story, she asks defense attorney Skye Lazaro to “get me White Strips.” When, in real life, Richins’ attorneys did apparently get her “White Strips,” she said authorities locked her down for contraband.
The entire transcript can be read below: