Jury deliberating fate of former Pasco officer accused of murdering Spokane woman in 1986

SPOKANE, Wash. —A jury is now deliberating the fate of a former Pasco Police officer accused of murdering a Spokane sex worker in the 1980s. 

Closing statements were quickly held Wednesday morning in Richard Aguirre’s murder trial. Aguirre is accused of killing Ruby Doss in 1986.

Prosecutors argued that Aguirre’s DNA matched the condom at the scene and that he admitted to friends that he had sex with Doss, but she was alive when he left.

“The fact that he still remembers her, I mean this wasn’t just a quickie. This was something and we know what that something was. It was murder,” Collins said.

Collins says Doss could have been in the process of dying.

Prolific attorney, John Henry Browne says that there is no other evidence besides the condom that links Aguirre to the scene.  He also tried proving that Aguirre was in another country at the time of Doss’s death.

Collins said Aguirre hit Doss over the head, beat, and strangled her. Her body was left near a building in East Spokane.

Browne also argued that the state kept referencing a fight between Doss and Aguirre. He said since the condom was the only think linked to Aguirre, Doss could’ve been in a fight with another customer.

“How do we know? What is the motive? Mr. Aguirre 19-year-old Airman utilizing the use of a prostitute from time to time. What’s he going to do just kill a prostitute to protect the fact that he used the prostitute?” Browne said

Browne showed military documents to provide Aguirre’s alibi. They say documents signed by his supervisors and commander show he was in Korea from December 1985 to December 1986.

Prosecutors argued that those documents showed Aguirre arrived in North Korea in Februarys 1986, Doss was murdered in January. Collins even noted that in those documents Aguirre had spoken with a counselor in which he talked about feeling guilt.

A passerby found Doss’ body and called the police. When they arrived, officers determined she had not been dead for very long. 

Detectives found boot impressions, leading them to believe Doss had tried to get away but was chased down by her killer. Court records show she had been hit in the back of the head, then strangled. 

As part of their investigation, detectives found Doss’ coat, wig, and earrings buried in the manure pit nearby. That’s where they believe the sexual encounter took place. Police also found a steak knife nearby, along with a used condom. 

That condom was sent to a DNA lab in New York in 1989. In 2001,  the DNA sample was submitted to a lab in Virginia, which was able to create a profile, but there were no matches in the nationwide database. 

The break in the case came in 2015 when a forensic scientist in the Washington State Patrol lab matched the DNA to a profile submitted in Pasco. That DNA belonged to Aguirre, who had resigned from the Pasco Police Department and was under investigation for raping a family member. He was later found innocent of raping his niece in Franklin County.

Court records show Aguirre was stationed at Fairchild Air Force base from 1984-1988. During their investigation, police tracked down friends and family of Aguirre, who said he used to visit strip clubs and pick up prostitutes on East Sprague. 

One man told police that “after a night of drinking, Aguirre admitted that he ‘hit a woman in the head’ and ‘choked her.’ The friend said Aguirre told him he thought the woman was still moving when he walked away.

Police also questioned Aguirre’s sisters, who said he told them he remembered having an encounter with a girl during that time but didn’t know if she was a prostitute and wasn’t sure if it was Doss.

The charges against Aguirre were dropped in 2017 due to “significant evidentiary issues” but he was charged once again in 2020.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Richard Aguirre trial: Opening statements begin for trial of former Pasco officer

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Opening statements start Tuesday in 1986 Spokane cold case murder