After the death of a childhood friend, lawmaker wants to block prenup payouts in murder cases

By: Kyle Dunphey, Utah News Dispatch

Not long after Kouri Richins was charged with murder in the death of her husband Eric Richins, accused of killing him with a lethal dose of fentanyl, she filed a lawsuit arguing that a prenuptial agreement guaranteed her about $2 million from the sale of her spouse’s masonry business.

That civil case, filed in Utah’s 3rd District Court, inspired one of Eric’s high school friends — Rep. Brett Garner, D-Salt Lake City — to introduce a bill that would prevent anyone convicted of murdering or incapacitating their spouse or family member from accessing money promised under an inheritance or prenuptial agreement.

“I was just as shocked as anybody else when she filed this prenuptial agreement lawsuit while she was incarcerated … there’s nothing stopping her from doing that,” Garner said on Wednesday.

Garner said he was friends with Eric Richins and attended Woods Cross High School with him in Davis County. They fell out of touch after graduating, and Garner said he was shocked when the murder became national news this spring.

His bill, HB569, was made public on Tuesday. Its fate is uncertain this late in the legislative session and Garner said he’s not sure if it will get a committee hearing, which is required before a bill moves to the House or Senate for consideration. Garner said lawmakers might push it to an interim meeting, when lawmakers meet in committees outside of the general session.

The bill would give a judge the authority to nullify or amend a prenuptial agreement or an inheritance that would benefit a perpetrator, as long as they’ve been convicted.

The civil case filed by Richins is still pending — so is her criminal case, where she’s charged with a number of things, including aggravated murder and drug possession with intent to distribute. Richins has not been convicted of anything, so as it stands Garner’s law would not have impacted her ability to cash in on her prenup. If the bill passes and she is convicted, a judge could invalidate that agreement.

“She may not win, she may be convicted in this case, but let’s make sure there’s no additional profiting off that act of violence,” Garner said.

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