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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Friends, ex-girlfriend testify that Aguirre admitted to knowing Ruby Doss

Richard Aguirre heads to court past prosecutors Larry Haskell, left, and Richard Whaley (back to camera), for his second trial, Wednesday morning, Nov. 29, 2023, in the Spokane County Courthouse. Aguirre was charged with first-degree murder for the death of 27-year-old Ruby Doss. Her body was found near the old Playfair Race Course in Spokane in 1986. Aguirre stood trial for the murder in 2021, but a mistrial was declared after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

In 2015, Pasco Police Captain Brian Vaught lent his truck to his buddy, Richard Aguirre, a fellow police officer.

When they met up, Aguirre handed Vaught a newspaper clipping. It was a story about how Aguirre was suspected of killing 27-year-old Ruby Doss in 1986.

Doss was found beaten and strangled just off East Sprague Avenue, an area known for prostitution at the time.

Vaught looked at the headline and thought, “What the heck?” he testified at Aguirre’s bench trial in Doss’ death Thursday.

Aguirre indicated he knew Doss, calling her “a woman of the night,” Vaught said. Vaught testified to that same statement at Aguirre’s first trial that ended in a hung jury in 2021.

He followed that up with a comment like, “I knew, her and she was alive when I left,” Vaught said.

Vaught recalled the comment coming in a joking manner.

Aguirre then said he always wore a condom, and “I don’t know why there’d be any DNA,” Vaught said.

Both statements Vaught also took in a joking manner. When questioned about why he would joke about such a serious topic, Vaught said it’s not uncommon for police officers to use humor to cope with the trauma they see on the job, and he had no reason to think Aguirre killed Doss. Vaught thought at the time the whole thing was a mistake, he said.

“The only time that I really felt like when maybe that means something more is when the detective from Spokane was asking me those questions,” Vaught said of his friend’s statements.

Vaught and other friends testified Thursday about Aguirre’s statements on Doss at his retrial for her killing. It is the second week of testimony in the case that is expected to continue through mid-December.

Lawrence Cole, a childhood friend of Aguirre’s, testified that in the late 1980s on a night out, Aguirre told him he had hit and choked a woman.

“She was moving when he left,” Cole recalled Aguirre saying. “He never at any time told me he killed anybody.”

Cole and Aguirre played T-ball together as kids. They grew apart in high school but reconnected when they began working together at a warehouse in the 1980s. Aguirre was the best man at Cole’s first wedding.

After Aguirre’s DNA was connected to the Doss case, Cole was interviewed by police a handful of times, even voluntarily providing his own DNA.

It was in the third or fourth interview that Cole shared Aguirre’s statements about assaulting the woman.

“It was eating me up,” Cole said of the statements he remembered Aguirre making.

Aguirre’s attorney, Karen Lindholdt, asked Cole if he was surprised, embarrassed and angry that officers had contacted him at work. Cole said he was, and at one point felt he was a suspect.

She also asked if Detective Kip Hollenbeck had suggested that Aguirre killed other people. Cole said yes.

Joan Thomasson, a former girlfriend of Aguirre’s, also took the stand.

Thomasson met Aguirre when he responded to her house as a police officer. They began dating in 2010, she said.

When Aguirre was first accused of killing Doss in 2015, Thomasson said she read a newspaper article about it.

She talked to Aguirre about the story. Aguirre mentioned there was a condom involved, that he knew Doss and that there were DNA profiles of him and two other people.

At Aguirre’s first trial, Thomasson testified similarly. She said Aguirre admitted to having sex with Doss, that he met her around the time of her death and that he made comments about throwing out a condom.

Aguirre’s trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. Monday.