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News / Northwest

Former Pasco Police officer sentenced to 25 years for 1986 killing of Ruby Doss

By Emma Epperly, The Spokesman-Review
Published: March 5, 2024, 8:26am

SPOKANE — Ruby Doss’ four daughters have spent the 38 years since their mother was killed struggling to make sense of the tremendous loss and how it affected their lives.

On Monday, they got closure and justice.

“We’re putting a period on it, and we cannot give him any more time,” LaQuisa Doss said of Richard Aguirre, 59.

Aguirre received a 25-year prison sentence Monday for murdering Doss.

“The erasure of her and the impact that has had on that family for 457 months … no number will ever fill that gap,” said Spokane County Superior Court Judge Jeremy Schmidt.

Doss, 27, was found beaten and strangled off of East Sprague Avenue on a rainy January night in 1986.

Investigators quickly ran out of solid leads and the case went cold until 2015, when Aguirre’s DNA from a rape kit in an unrelated crime matched the DNA on a condom found near Doss’ body.

Aguirre, who was in the U.S. Air Force at the time of the killing but later became a police officer, was arrested in June 2015. Aguirre was first tried in 2021, but a jury could not reach a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial.

At his second trial, which began in November, Aguirre opted to forgo a jury, allowing Schmidt alone to decide his fate.

Schmidt found Aguirre guilty of first-degree murder on Dec. 26. Aguirre has maintained his innocence.

At the sentencing Monday, Doss’ daughters spoke via Zoom about how the loss of their mother at such a young age affected their lives.

“I’m not sure how much he understands that he was such an eraser,” LaShunda Walker said. “He changed the trajectory of my life and my sisters’ lives in such a major way.”

Walker said she had hoped to hear Aguirre take accountability for what he did, but without that she still feels justice has been served.

LaTasha Fowler has few memories of her mother, but she has lots of moments when she wished her mother had been there, from birthdays to her wedding to the birth of her children and grandchildren.

“I would give anything for the chance to know her,” Fowler said.

LaToya Doss, who was a child in Spokane when her mother was killed, said the unresolved nature of the case has left her and her sisters without closure.

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“This is not just a loss for me but a generational loss. Each day we are haunted by the memories of her laughter,” LaToya Doss said. “She was a bright light extinguished too soon.”

All four sisters asked for the maximum punishment allowed by law.

Aguirre had to be sentenced under 1986 law, which left Schmidt with a range of 20 to just over 26 years.

Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell asked Schmidt to sentence Aguirre to the maximum, largely because of how extensive Doss’ injuries were. She was a sex worker at the time, working in the notorious East Sprague Avenue area.

“This was a brutal crime,” Haskell said.

Todd Maybrown, Aguirre’s new attorney for his upcoming appeal, argued that Aguirre lived a productive life since Doss’ death and was young at the time she died, a factor the court must consider.

He also noted that Aguirre, being a former police officer, will be a “particularly vulnerable inmate.”

While no one spoke in court on Aguirre’s behalf, his fiancée, Rayme Meyer, wrote a letter saying her 7-year-old son is very close with his dad and prays for him to return home.

“I know at this point in Rich’s (Aguirre) life everything revolves around and is focused on that little boy,” she wrote.

Meyer said Aguirre is an honest and reliable partner. She asked the judge to consider their family when sentencing Aguirre.

Aguirre’s sister, Lisa DeRuyter, made a similar request in her letter.

Aguirre declined to address the court ahead of sentencing on Maybrown’s advice.

Schmidt said he considered all the factors both parties brought up before deciding on a 25-year sentence.

The year and a half reduction from the maximum was due to Aguirre’s age when he killed Doss, the judge said.

After handing down the sentence, Schmidt addressed Doss’ family.

“I hope this brings some finality for you and your family,” Schmidt said. “You are her legacy. That will be remembered.”