SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — Kouri Richins, the woman accused of killing her husband by fentanyl poisoning and then writing a children’s book about grieving, is due in court on Monday, June 12, for a detention hearing.
During Monday’s hearing, a judge heard from both parties and three witnesses before making a decision to continue holding Kouri Richins without bail during her pretrial period. The court will meet again in person at noon on Thursday, June 22 for a scheduling conference.
Upon starting the day in court, attorneys on behalf of the State of Utah said they would bring in three witnesses for the hearing, starting with Det. Jeff O’Driscoll, the lead investigator in the case.
The State’s attorney asked O’Driscoll several questions including the investigation into the relationship between Kouri Richins and “C.L.,” the friend and employee of Kouri who allegedly gave her the fentanyl used to allegedly kill Eric. He also asked O’Driscoll about the moments immediately after Eric Richins’ death, records pulled from phone carriers, and the search of the Richins’ home.
O’Driscoll told prosecutors that Richins had texted C.L., asking for fentanyl in order to help a client who was complaining of a back injury. Those pills were reportedly bought by C.L. through some connections with acquaintances on two occasions before meeting up with Richins to give her the fentanyl in early 2022.
Prosecutors asked O’Driscoll if investigators had talked to the acquaintances to confirm those stories, which he said they did and the story was corroborated.
According to O’Driscoll, several calls and text messages were exchanged between Richins and C.L., though because the messages were deleted from both phones, they were only able to see what timestamps of when the calls were made and when messages were sent.
The questioning turned to the moments immediately after Eric’s death, when Kouri called 911, saying Eric was “cold to touch” and “not breathing.” She had reportedly performed CPR on Eric in an attempt to resuscitate him. During the recounting, Richins could be seen in the courtroom with her head down and a tissue pressed against her eyes.
According to O’Driscoll, first responding paramedics said Kouri Richins did not perform CPR on her husband, despite telling police that she had before they arrived. EMTs told investigators that Eric began foaming at the mouth upon the start of CPR. Had Kouri performed CPR on Eric, that foaming would have happened earlier.
O’Driscoll also said a search of the Richins home found “bugout bags,” which were described as emergency use bags that include clothing and State IDs for every member of the Richins family in case they need to leave the house quickly.
When the defense took over the questioning, they asked O’Driscoll about C.L.’s employment with Kouri Richins as well as specifics about the police interview with C.L. after Eric’s death.
O’Driscoll had mentioned Richins had written a check from her business account to pay C.L. about the time she also allegedly asked for fentanyl. Richins’ defense asked if it was possible the check could have been written to pay C.L. for cleaning the houses for her real estate business. O’Driscoll responded that he didn’t want to speculate, but admitted it was a possibility.
The defense also brought up C.L.’s history with drugs, saying she was on drug probation. The defense said during the police interview, investigators had told C.L. about the punishments she could be facing including federal charges and a prison sentence for breaking that probation.
“I gave her the opportunity to tell us up front if she was willing to cooperate, or if we shouldn’t bother with interviewing her,” O’Driscoll said. He said it was a common tactic in law enforcement to leverage charges for information.
O’Driscoll told the defense that C.L. went back-to-back on her memory what the specifics of each transaction were with the drugs, whether it was an in-person handoff or if C.L. had left pills in a firepit at a home owned by Kouri Richins’ real estate company. He also said C.L. could not remember specific dates, but said that as the officers presented more information, it helped her more, which the defense questioned.
The defense asked O’Driscoll about the interview with Eric’s best friend, “J.S.,” and said investigators presented J.S. with three possible scenarios. Either Eric had overdosed himself, someone did it to him, or it was accidental. O’Driscoll said J.S. said he couldn’t see Kouri Richins poisoning Eric and that he believed she didn’t have anything to do with his death.
J.S. reportedly said he, Eric, and another friend would confide in each other about their marriages, which is how he had insight into Eric’s life.
After a short recess, the defense resumed its questioning of Detective O’Driscoll, asking him about when he took over the case as a lead investigator. She asked if he knew the previous investigator had been removed from the case, to which he said she had stepped down because she moved to the patrol unit to respond to emergency situations.
Richins’ attorney asked for clarification that the previous lead investigator left a potential murder case for a patrol position within the department. O’Driscoll said that was common within the department.
For their second witness, the prosecution brought Chris Kotrodimos up to the stand, a private investigator formerly with the Salt Lake City Police Department and Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office who specializes in digital forensics.
Throughout his questioning with the State, Kotrodimos broke down what was found through investigations of both Richins’ phones. Kotrodimos said he was able to tell when the phone was locked, unlocked, and used to make calls or send messages or how it moved – including GPS data from an Apple Watch – during the time of Eric Richins’ death.
Kotrodimos also told the prosecution that her phone was pinged at a Maverik gas station where she allegedly received fentanyl from C.L. for about an hour.
The defense asked about the period of time Kotradimos had examined as part of his investigation. When he said he had a window of time that he examined started in January 2022, the defense asked if he wouldn’t know then if the number of times Kouri Richins and C.L. were talking was normal for them prior to January 2022. He said he wouldn’t know.
For their final witness, prosecutors brought financial forensics investigator Brooke Karrington.
During her testimony with the prosecution, Karrington said Kouri Richins’ business had a growing business and it was growing significantly, though she said it could have been problematic. When asked why, she said it could have been growing too fast and too strong which could mean a need to take on more debt.
The defense asked if hard-money lending, and taking on debt in a Real Estate business of buying and flipping homes was common, which Karrington agreed that it was typical for the business. The defense also confirmed with Karrington that Kouri Richins had sold several of her properties but still owned a “handful” of them.
Throughout both, Karrington said the Richins’ financial accounts always had money, noting that there were moments when there were insufficient funds.
Finally, Eric’s sister, Amy, stepped up to the podium to make an impact statement.
“The feeling of loss is so great it’s visceral.”
Through her statement, Eric’s sister painted a picture of her brother, saying he did everything he could to make sure his family was taken care of. She called him a true champion of the people and that he cared for every person he met.
“I may be naive, but I never knew evil like this existed,” she said.
Following each party’s closing arguments, where lawyers from both sides recounted evidence submitted and the questioning of the three witnesses, the judge determined Kouri Richins will be held with no bail during the pretrial period.
Kouri Richins could still appeal for bail, though she only has a 30-day window to file the appeal.
The court will meet again in person at noon on Thursday, June 22 for a scheduling conference.