Attorney of former Pasco officer accused of Spokane murder responds to refiled charge
SPOKANE, Wash. — A former police officer from the Tri-Cities pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in the 1986 murder of a Spokane woman.
Richard Aguirre, a former Pasco Police officer, was recently recharged with first-degree murder for Ruby Doss’ death.
He was previously charged in the case in 2015 when his DNA from a Pasco case matched a sample taken from a condom found next to Doss’ body, but charges were dropped in 2017 due to “significant evidentiary issues.”
Court documents don’t explain why Aguirre was recharged with the murder. During Aguirre’s arraignment on Wednesday, his attorney claims prosecutors said they have new evidence from the crime lab. However, he said he hasn’t seen any record of it from the State.
“I think there’s some suggestion that they have more new lab reports but they don’t mention the lab reports in the certificate of probable cause and they haven’t given them to me,” said John Henry Browne, Aguirre’s attorney.
Browne expressed many issues about the case during Wednesday’s court appearance.
“The State has re-filed charges against Mr. Aguirre with a new cause number cause there’s already an existing cause number, so I’ve never encountered that before,” he said.
Because charges were filed under a new case number, the clock starts over in terms of how long Aguirre has to be brought to trial. Browne said in court that he can’t figure out why there’s a new case number when an old one exists.
“I think they’re trying to get around the speedy trial requirement that you have a trial within 90 days,” Browne said.
Browne said there is no written speedy trial waiver in the case from 2015.
“We believe there’s no speedy trial left in this case,” Browne said in the courtroom. “This case was dismissed two years ago without prejudice.”
Browne is also concerned about a document filed during the first case.
“One of the concerns that I have about the court file is I have a certified copy of the United States Air Force records that show Mr. Aguirre was in Korea at the time of the victim’s death,” he said.
Browne claims his paralegal also called the Clerk’s Office last week and Browne said the office told them a file was destroyed.
“That original certified copy was in the court file, which we’ve now been told the court file has been destroyed,” Browne explained.
4 News Now reached out to the Spokane County Clerk’s Office about the claim. They said,
The hardcopy file for case number 15-1-02443-5, State vs. Aguirre, was destroyed in 2018, but we still have the complete electronic copy of the file. The case is available for viewing at one of our public viewing stations and copies may be purchased of any non-confidential documents.
It has been an objective of the County Clerk, Tim Fitzgerald, to digitize all of our Superior Court files and eventually eliminate the hundreds of thousands of hardcopy files still stored by our office. As we move towards this goal, due to the huge increase in the volume of physical files over the past years, we have had to implement new ways to accommodate for the storage of the files. One way that we do this is to pull all criminal cases when an Order of Dismissal of Total Charges is filed and move it to storage until such time as we complete a verification of all the images and obtain an Order to Destroy the file. The above case had an Order of Dismissal of Total Charges filed on 12-06-2017 and was subsequently destroyed in September of 2018.
During the court appearance, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Stefanie Collins said they disagree with “most everything Mr. Browne said except for the release of Aguirre as he waits for his next court date.
Browne said he’s also concerned about where the trial will be held.
“I’m also concerned that in this case given some of the publicity in this case, which has violated every possible part of the Bench Bar Press guidelines, there may be eventually a motion for a change of venue,” he explained.
4 News Now reached out to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office for comment and did not hear back.
Aguirre is out of jail under certain release conditions. He’s scheduled to be back in court on October 12.
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