A former Pasco police officer is out of jail 10 months after his arrest for the 1986 murder of a Spokane prostitute.
Richard J. Aguirre was released from the Spokane County jail at 9:01 p.m. Friday, five hours after a judge reduced his bond to $500,000 from $1 million.
However, the Pasco resident still faces a charge of first-degree murder with sexual motivation for the beating and strangling of Ruby J. Doss on Jan. 30, 1986.
During his hearing Friday afternoon in Spokane County Superior Court, Aguirre’s lawyer argued that his client left the United States on a military deployment 37 days before Doss’ death.
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Prosecutors countered that military and medical records, along with Aguirre’s own statement, place him in Washington at the time of the murder.
Since there is “a dispute in the facts,” the issue is best resolved by a jury and not in a pretrial motion, Judge Harold D. Clarke III ruled.
Clarke denied a defense request to dismiss Aguirre’s case.
So from my perspective, you have a dispute in the facts that is obviously material, and that needs to be resolved. And the way to resolve that is through trial, and not in a motion.
Judge Harold D. Clarke III
Aguirre had at least nine supporters in court Friday.
His attorney, John Henry Browne of Seattle, filed the motion last month.
“The state’s notion that Mr. Aguirre is the perpetrator of this heinous crime is a factual impossibility” because he was not on the same continent, Browne wrote.
He said certified military records give Aguirre a complete alibi defense, and the state should “acknowledge its shortcomings and dismiss this fatally flawed prosecution.”
The document Browne offered as proof of Aguirre’s alibi was an “Airman Performance Report,” an annual military evaluation showing Aguirre’s duty at Osan Air Base was from Dec. 24, 1985, to Dec. 23, 1986.
Aguirre, now 51, was a military dog handler at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane until he was given overseas orders. His assignment in South Korea was material facilities specialist.
The state’s notion that Mr. Aguirre is the perpetrator of this heinous crime is a factual impossibility” because he was not on the same continent.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne of Seattle
Prosecutor Larry Haskell said the defense is basing its entire argument on one document that only refers to a reporting period, and does not show the actual date of Aguirre’s departure from Fairchild or arrival at Osan.
Haskell also pointed out how documents show Aguirre was in Spokane one day and South Korea the next, though it takes more than one day to travel there, and questioned how he switched jobs so quickly without time for training.
Aguirre was in a car crash in Spokane in January 1986, received dental care at Fairchild that same month and made statements to several people, including his sister, about Doss, the prosecutor said.
“Judge, there is not a single record that shows any activity at Osan Air Base … until the date he indicated to a counselor he arrived in the country, which was Feb. 21, 1986,” Haskell argued.
“The state doesn’t believe you need to be an expert to read left to right, top to bottom, to figure out where” the date stamps are on the military records, he added.
Browne replied that there is no record proving Aguirre was not already in Korea in December 1985, and asked why prosecutors haven’t been able to “come up with something” given all the resources of the state and federal governments.
Judge Clarke acknowledged that the pivotal issue is where Aguirre was during that two-month time period.
He said it would be helpful to have actual records from Fairchild showing the exact date of Aguirre’s deployment, but recognized that it can be difficult to get records from the federal government.
“So from my perspective, you have a dispute in the facts that is obviously material, and that needs to be resolved,” Clarke said. “And the way to resolve that is through trial, and not in a motion.”
Prosecutors Larry Haskell and Mark Cipolla said Aguirre is now facing numerous voyeurism charges in numerous counties. They said the plan is to consolidate those charges with a special prosecutor handling them in one county, but it hasn’t yet been worked out.
The Doss case went cold for 29 years until investigators learned that Aguirre was a match for a DNA profile from a condom found near the murder scene.
Aguirre’s DNA was entered into a national database in 2014 after a Franklin County woman accused him of sexual assault.
Aguirre, who has adamantly denied killing Doss, resigned from the Pasco Police Department in April 2015. He was on the force 27 years.
His third-degree rape and fourth-degree assault case in Franklin County Superior Court is set for June 8.
An unrelated case in Spokane County for voyeurism was dismissed Feb. 23.
On Friday, Haskell and Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Aguirre faces numerous voyeurism charges in numerous counties. They said the plan is to consolidate those charges with a special prosecutor handling them in one county, but it hasn’t yet been worked out.
Aguirre’s murder trial is set for June 20, though prosecutors have asked for a delay until August. The date will be discussed at a hearing later this month.