Utah author argued with husband over buying $2M house before he was killed, records state

Eric Richins was planning on telling Kouri Richins that he didn’t want to sign the closing papers for the property, records state.

(Google Maps) A home under construction in Midway, seen in 2021. The home was the subject of a dispute between Kouri Richins and her husband, Eric, in the days leading up to his death, according to court documents.

A Kamas man who prosecutors say was fatally drugged by his wife last year had been arguing with her over her decision to buy a $2 million-dollar property in the days before his death, court documents show.

The wife and murder suspect, Kouri Richins, is a licensed real estate sales agent, records with the Utah Department of Commerce’s real estate division show. According to a search warrant affidavit filed in the homicide case, she had wanted to “flip” the house in question, but her husband, Eric Richins, “was planning on telling her that he wasn’t going to sign the papers” because he thought they would lose a lot of money.

After Eric’s death on March 4, 2022, Kouri told police that the night prior, the two of them had been celebrating her closing on a house for her business, the affidavit states. Kouri had made her husband a Moscow mule, which he drank in bed. She went to sleep shortly after, and awoke around 3 a.m. to find Eric cold to the touch, she told police.

Kouri called 911 and was “supposedly attempting to give Eric CPR,” the affidavit states. But when first responders arrived, it seemed that she hadn’t, based on the amount of blood in his mouth.

The next day, she closed on the multimillion-dollar property alone, the document says.

“She later invited her friends over for a large party at her home where she was drinking and celebrating,” the affidavit states.

(KPCW.org via AP) 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 killing her husband with a lethal dose of fentanyl at their home in Kamas.

In 2021, Eric Richins had secretly changed his will and power of attorney from his wife to his sister Katie Richins-Benson, according to another search warrant affidavit. According to sisters Richins-Benson and Amy Richins, Eric had told them he was worried that “Kouri would kill him for money and he wanted to make sure the kids were taken care of financially,” the document states.

Eric never told Kouri that he had cut her out of the will, his family told investigators, according to the affidavit.

Months before Eric Richins’ death, in January 2022, Kouri had logged into her husband’s life insurance policy agreement with his business partner and changed it so she would be the only beneficiary, according to the affidavit. But Eric was notified by the insurance company and changed it back.

Eric had wanted a divorce, according to the affidavit. Following his death, a probate dispute over his estate, as well as a separate dispute over his trust, ignited in civil court between Kouri Richins and Eric’s sister Katie Richins-Benson, court records show.

This week, following Kouri Richins’ arrest, Kouri filed a motion in the trust case requesting that the trust case and estate case be stayed pending the outcome of the homicide case. The sister disagreed.

“The Estate must be administered regardless of what is happening with Kouri’s criminal prosecution,” a response from the sister in the trust case states. “The administration of the Estate cannot and should not be put on hold waiting for the outcome of the murder charges against Kouri, a process that could take years.”

The sister also filed a motion Wednesday in the estate case that requested that Kouri Richins be disqualified from receiving any benefits under Eric’s estate, “otherwise preventing Kouri from in any way profiting from Eric’s death.” The motion cited the ongoing homicide case.

Kouri’s motion in the trust case states, “Kouri should not be forced to choose between waiving her constitutional rights or effectively forfeiting her civil claims.”

As of Thursday afternoon, a judge had not made a decision on the motions.

An autopsy and toxicology findings determined that Eric Richins died from a fentanyl overdose, and that he had five times the lethal dosage in his system. The medical examiner also stated that the fentanyl in his system was illicit fentanyl and not medical-grade fentanyl.

In the days leading up to his death, text messages investigators found on Kouri’s phone indicate that she had sought fentanyl from someone identified as “C.L.” in court documents.

Court documents allege that Eric Richins believed his wife had tried to poison him multiple times before his death, citing two instances before his apparent fatal overdose in which Eric ingested something that his wife had given him and he fell ill.

Nearly a year after Eric Richins died, Kouri Richins published a children’s book about grief, called “Are You with Me?” As of Wednesday, the book had been removed from Amazon’s website.

In April, Richins appeared in a segment on KTVX-Channel 4′s “Good Things Utah” to discuss the new book, during which she shared that her husband “passed away unexpectedly last year.”

Kouri Richins is currently in custody at the Summit County jail. A court hearing in the homicide case is slated for May 19.