Thursday, December 7, 2017

Former Pasco cop accused of 1986 murder of Spokane prostitute is off the hook — for now

Posted By on Thu, Dec 7, 2017 at 2:32 PM

click to enlarge Former Pasco cop accused of 1986 murder of Spokane prostitute is off the hook — for now
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Richard Aguirre has admitted to having sex with a prostitute in the past, but says he does not recognize Ruby Doss, and denies involvement in her murder.

At one time, former Pasco cop Richard Aguirre stood accused of a slew of heinous crimes — voyeurism, witness tampering, assault, rape and murder. Now they're all gone.

Yesterday, Spokane County prosecutors dismissed the only remaining charge, the alleged murder of Ruby Doss, a woman who worked as a prostitute in Spokane in the 1980s, court records show. Spokane had prosecutors dropped the voyeurism and witnesses tampering charges in early 2016 without a trial. Aguirre was acquitted of assault and rape by Franklin County jury in March of this year.

But Aguirre is not necessarily completely in the clear. The murder case was dismissed "without prejudice," which means prosecutors can refile the charges at a later time. Aguirre's Seattle-based attorney, John Henry Browne, says that's highly unlikely.

"It puts them in a bind, if it's ever recharged, they have a very limited time to try the case," says Browne, who has made a name for himself defending high-profile criminals, including serial killer Ted Bundy. "And given the complexity of this case, that's never going to happen."

Spokane County prosecutor Jack Driscoll, who was just put on the case this past April, says the decision to dismiss the charges stem from the very recent results of a DNA test. Driscoll declined to elaborate, "because there's now an open investigation."

Speaking by phone from his home in the Tri-Cities after the dismissal, Aguirre says he is overwhelmed by the outcome. Even with the dismissal, however, he says he doesn't feel a sense of closure.

From the outset, Aguirre has accused Spokane prosecutors and a detective of misrepresenting evidence in the murder case. Those "lies" kept him locked in jail for nearly a year, he says. For all of Browne's confidence, Aguirre says he's concerned that prosecutors will try to charge him again.

Driscoll says prosecutors would have dealt with any alleged misconduct by law enforcement if the case had gone to trial.

For his part, Browne believes in Aguirre's innocence. Browne also defended the former cop against the rape charge in Franklin County.

"I can see how a prosecutor would think there is probable cause to charge him, but the problem is that probable cause was tainted by Detective [Kip] Hollenbeck's overzealous investigation, which contained many errors," Browne says.

Specifically, Browne is referring to Hollenbeck's reports detailing interviews with Aguirre's ex-girlfriend and ex-wife that have been called into question by the two women.

A third witness and friend of Aguirre's reportedly told the detective that Aguirre admitted that he "hit a woman in the head," and "choked her," but that "she was still moving" as he walked away.

Aguirre was initially linked to Doss' murder because his DNA was found in a condom recovered near her body in 1986. Browne contends that the condom is not definitive proof.

"Ruby Doss clearly fought off her attacker, and that's been the state's theory," he says. "Under her nails and on her body was male DNA, which was not Mr. Aguirre's. There may have been DNA in a condom where prostitutes frequent, but that doesn't mean he killed Ruby Doss."

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About The Author

Mitch Ryals

Mitch covers cops, crime and courts for the Inlander. He moved to Spokane in 2015 from his hometown of St. Louis, and is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He likes bikes, beer and baseball. And coffee. He dislikes lemon candy, close-mindedness and liars. And temperatures below 40 degrees.