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Court freezes Kouri Richins’ assets ahead of murder trial

Kouri Richins, a Utah mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband, Eric Richins, then wrote a children's book about grieving, looks on during a hearing Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in Park City, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)
Rick Bowmer
Kouri Richins, a Kamas mother of three who authorities say fatally poisoned her husband, Eric Richins, then wrote a children's book about grieving, listens during a hearing Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, in a Summit County courtroom.

The Kamas realtor faces action over Utah’s slayer statute in civil court, in addition to criminal charges.

The so-called slayer statute is a law to keep killers from profiting off their crimes, and if Kouri is convicted, it may apply to her. She’s innocent until proven guilty, but a court can still take measures to preserve assets in case of a conviction.

At a hearing Nov. 3, Third District Court Judge Richard Mrazik found there is “substantial evidence supporting the aggravated murder charge,” so he is freezing her assets for now—that includes assets held by Kouri Richins Realty, where she’s the sole employee.

He also gave Eric’s family a formal, financial interest in Kouri’s own estate since the time of Eric’s death.

It’s collateral in case she transfers money or assets that a court later determines should’ve belonged to Eric’s family. It is likely Kouri will be allowed to transfer assets to pay her lawyers though.

Mrazik said he wants to be careful to preserve Kouri’s ability to fund her defense, otherwise her Sixth Amendment rights might be violated.

Eric’s family had also asked the judge to appoint a third party to control money she earns through her company, Kouri Richins Realty. Eric’s family attorney James Tracy said the bank foreclosed on four of Kouri’s properties in September 2023 alone.

Mrazik refused to divert the potential proceeds from those foreclosures. He again cites the need to allow Kouri to pay legal fees.

She’s involved in numerous civil lawsuits besides the criminal murder case.

That includes the probate case which will determine who inherits Eric’s estate. There’s also a $13 million lawsuit from Eric’s family, which seeks wrongful death damages.

The court put portions of the probate and wrongful death cases that overlap with the criminal case on pause indefinitely.

The $13 million wrongful death suit had added Kouri’s mother and brother as defendants after Kouri transferred ownership of her mom’s house from Kouri Richins Realty back to her mom. That portion of the lawsuit, where Eric’s family is alleging Kouri is trying to hide that asset from them, will still move forward.

Kouri also sued her husband’s estate and trust, seeking the property held by both. Mrazik didn’t rule on those two suits Nov. 3.

He told both sides to confer and get back to him with a joint decision on whether those should proceed alongside the criminal case.

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