Kouri Richins, a children’s book author who was already facing murder charges for the death of her husband, is now also facing witness tampering charges related to the murder case, according to CNN. Here is what to know about this ever-changing case.

Background on the Case

Kouri Richins is accused of murdering her husband by poisoning him with fentanyl in a beverage. The autopsy showed he had five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl that would kill most people. About a year later, she published a children’s book called Are You with Me?, discussing grief after the loss of a loved one.

However, authorities in Utah flipped her jail cell and found a six-page letter to her mother, where she asked her mom to contact her brother to falsely testify that her dead husband had asked him to get him fentanyl from Mexico to make it look like a normal overdose. In Utah, you are guilty of witness tampering with a witness if you attempt to induce them to testify falsely in court.

Legal Analysis

The real issue here is whether the law allows the prosecutor to have the letter to be admitted in the murder trial. It sure does. Similar to a flight instruction. Further, the prosecution could likely file a motion to consolidate the witness tampering with the murder trial.

In Pennsylvania, we see many different types of these allegations in cases: obstruction, hinder, intimidation, retaliation, etc. All of them come into evidence, and the prosecutor is allowed to consolidate these matters into one trial.

Here, Richins is innocent until proven guilty, but she is limited in her defense, in my opinion. She is now stuck to the story in the letter. Her case theory must be that what she wrote in the letter IS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED—her husband was a drug addict and overdosed on his own. Further, the letter was just asking her brother to come to court and tell the truth. The problem is the prosecution now knows her defense, and if there is no evidence the husband was a drug addict, they will really go after her brother when he takes the stand. And, they have the letter that SHE wrote, not the brother, so they will attempt to impeach the brother with the defendant’s own words.

Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.