Kouri Richins gets new attorneys, proclaims innocence in recordings sent to national media

Kouri Richins attends a hearing on May 15 in Park City. Two new attorneys were appointed to represent her during a hearing on Friday.

Kouri Richins attends a hearing on May 15 in Park City. Two new attorneys were appointed to represent her during a hearing on Friday. (Rick Boomer, Associated Press)

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PARK CITY — A June preliminary hearing for Kouri Richins, a Kamas mother charged with killing her husband and then writing a children's book about grief, will be delayed after her new attorneys said they would not have time to go through the large amount of evidence in the case.

In a hearing on Monday, 3rd District Judge Richard Mrazik addressed a motion for her attorneys to withdraw and suggested appointing Wendy Lewis and Kathryn Nester to the case. The withdrawal of Skye Lazaro was made official on Friday, after Jami Brackin, an attorney representing Summit County, said she had no objection to the new attorneys.

The judge asked Lazaro to ensure that case documents are sent to the new attorneys quickly.

Lewis said it is hard to say how much time she will need to prepare for a preliminary hearing and asked to set a hearing in mid-June where they could schedule the preliminary hearing. That hearing was set for June 21.

Kouri Richins speaks out

Richins sent voice recordings to multiple national media outlets maintaining she is innocent, after her attorneys asked to be released from the case. She said speaking out for the first time is "terrifying" but needed.

"They took an innocent mom away from her babies, and this means war," Richins said in recordings sent to KSL.com by Dateline and a spokesman for Kouri Richins, who said he had sent recordings to other outlets.

"I've been silent for a year, ripped away from my kids, my family, my life. Living with the media telling the world who they think I am, what they think I've done or how they think I've lived — and it's time to start speaking up," she said.

She said the timely trial she was promised hasn't happened and claimed prosecutors "will do anything they can to prolong this process and hide their corruption."

Richins said in the recordings she is "extremely disappointed" with the status of her case.

"I'm anxious. I'm anxious for my innocence. I'm anxious to get to trial. And I'm ready to give this one heck of a fight," she said in the recording.

She said the world has not yet heard who she really is, or the real facts of the case and said it is time "to do some serious damage control."

"Who I really am, and all that matters, is a wife of Eric Richins and a mom to three beautiful boys. What I've really done is protect Eric at all cost; what I really didn't do is murder my husband. I could not, and would not ever do that to Eric, or anyone for that matter. I'm asking the world to give me a chance. Give me a chance to prove it to you," Richins said.

Richins said she was devastated and shocked her team had to withdraw, and said Lazaro has become like family and it was not the choice of either of them. However, she said it is time to move forward. She said there is work to do and she is ready for the challenge.

"I will never quit. ... I'm ready to move forward, I'm ready to go to trial, and I'm definitely ready to prove my innocence," she said.

Eric Richins' family responds

Greg Skordas, a Salt Lake City attorney acting as a spokesman for the family of Eric Richins, said Friday it was "no surprise" Kouri Richins is proclaiming her innocence in these new recordings.

"We know what happened. She knows what happened. A jury will soon know what happened and I trust the judicial system," Skordas said in an interview with KSL-TV.

Skordas said the claims made by Kouri Richins in the audio recordings are "rantings" that are "completely untrue."

"We know what the evidence is. She should know the evidence by now, and we believe that a jury will have enough evidence to convict her," said Skordas.

Richins' case

Kouri Richins is accused of fatally poisoning her husband and then writing a children's book about loss before she was arrested over a year after her husband's death.

She is charged with aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, first-degree felonies; two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of insurance fraud and two counts of mortgage fraud, second-degree felonies; and three counts of forgery, a third-degree felony.

Prosecutors allege she poisoned her husband Eric Richins, 39, who was found with five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system when he died, according to a toxicology report.

Her case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on May 15, but it was delayed and rescheduled for three days in June after Lazaro announced her intention to object to 18 exhibits and prosecutors said they were not ready to argue in favor of each exhibit.

That was before Lazaro asked the judge to disqualify the prosecutors from the case, specifically, Summit County chief prosecutor Brad Bloodworth, alleging misconduct, and before attorneys at Lazaro's firm filed a motion asking to withdraw from the case completely.

The motion to disqualify the prosecutors still needs to be addressed by the court, but prosecutors said in a statement it was "materially inaccurate." They have not yet filed an official response, which is due by May 31.

Contributing: Daniel Woodruff

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Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.


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