June 19th, 2024

Attorneys stop representing a Utah mom and children’s grief author accused of killing her husband

By Mead Gruver, The Associated Press on May 21, 2024.

Defense attorney Skye Lazaro, left, talks to Summit County Chief Prosecutor Brad Bloodworth about delaying until June a preliminary hearing for Lazaro's client, Kouri Richins, during a hearing Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Park City, Utah. Richins, a Utah mother of three, who wrote a children's book about coping with grief after her husband's death, was later accused of fatally poisoning him. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

A team of attorneys has withdrawn from representing a Utah mother accused of killing her husband with fentanyl then publishing a children’s book about loss and grief.

Why Kouri Richins’ private attorneys withdrew from the case was unclear; they cited only an “irreconcilable and nonwaivable situation” in a court filing asking to leave. Utah district court Judge Richard Mrazik in Salt Lake City granted the request after a closed hearing Monday.

The move could slow the case against Richins, who has been adamant in maintaining her innocence. No new attorney had stepped forward to represent her as of Tuesday.

Richins, 33, is accused of killing her husband, Eric Richins, with a lethal dose of fentanyl in a Moscow mule cocktail she made for him at their home near Park City in March 2022. Additional charges filed in March accuse Richins of trying to poison him with fentanyl in a sandwich a month earlier.

Prosecutors accuse Richins of making secret financial arrangements and buying the illegal drug as her husband began to harbor suspicions about her.

After her husband’s death, Richins self-published an illustrated storybook about a father with angel wings watching over his young son titled, “Are You With Me?” The mother of three has repeatedly called her husband’s death unexpected and many praised the book for helping children through the loss of a close relative.

In the year since her arrest, the case of a once-beloved author accused of profiting off her own violent crime has captivated true-crime enthusiasts.

Richins’ lead attorney, Skye Lazaro, had argued that the evidence against her client is dubious and circumstantial. Lazaro and other attorneys for Richins did not return messages Tuesday seeking comment on their withdrawal from the case.

Eric Richins, 39, died amid marital discord over a multimillion-dollar mansion his wife purchased as an investment. She also opened numerous life insurance policies on her husband without his knowledge, with benefits totaling nearly $2 million, prosecutors allege.

Kouri Richins had a negative bank account balance, owed lenders more than $1.8 million and was being sued by a creditor at the time of her husband’s death, according to court documents.

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