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

Spokane judge finds former Pasco officer guilty of 1986 cold case murder of Ruby Doss

Richard Aguirre, 59, center, is led out of court after being convicted Tuesday for the 1986 killing of Ruby Doss, 27.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Emma Epperly and Emry Dinman The Spokesman-Review

A Spokane judge found Richard Aguirre guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday afternoon for the 1986 killing of Ruby Doss.

Doss, 27, was found beaten and strangled near the Playfair racetrack on a misty January evening.

The investigation into her death quickly went cold until 2015 when DNA from a condom found at the crime scene was matched to Aguirre, a Pasco police officer who has since resigned from the force.

He was first tried for Doss’ death in 2021, but the jury could not reach a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

Last month, Aguirre opted for a bench trial before Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jeremy Schmidt – giving the judge the final say on the verdict. After four weeks of testimony, attorneys gave their closing arguments last week.

Prosecutors argued that Doss, who was a sex worker at the time, could only have seen one client from about 9 p.m. when she was last seen alive to 10:44 p.m. when police arrived after reports of a dead body in the area. They also pointed to Aguirre’s statements to friends that he had hit and choked a woman around that time but that she was alive when he left, along with the DNA evidence.

Aguirre’s attorney, Karen Lindholdt, argued in the trial that police did not thoroughly investigate other suspects and contaminated evidence, making the DNA unreliable. After Tuesday’s hearing, Lindholdt said she will file a motion asking the judge to reconsider. If that’s unsuccessful, she said she would appeal.

“While I respect the judge’s decision, I believe in Mr. Aguirre’s innocence and will continue to fight for that,” she said in an interview with reporters after the hearing.

Schmidt took a week to reach his decision and write his findings of fact and conclusions of law.

He found that the DNA evidence was compelling and said he believed there were not sufficient issues with its collection and processing of evidence to create a reasonable doubt that the condom contained the DNA of both Aguirre and Doss. He similarly found that the defense had not convincingly argued that another suspect could have committed the killing.

He convicted Aguirre of first-degree murder finding that the number of times he hit Doss and the distance he chased her amounted to premeditation. At the announcement, members of Doss’ family who were watching the proceedings virtually celebrated and were overcome with emotion before placing a portrait of Ruby in front of the camera. Aguirre’s family, including his wife, were distraught as law enforcement arrived to escort Aguirre into custody.

Aguirre faces up to life in prison. He was taken into custody after the hearing.

His sentencing is set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5.