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Spokane cold murder case in flux as prosecutors office discusses dismissing charges

The Spokane County’s prosecutor’s office may not continue its efforts to prosecute a former Pasco Police Officer accused of murder.

Richard Aguirre is accused of killing Ruby Doss in the 1980s. Doss’s case went cold until 2015, when Aguirre’s DNA was entered into a database as a result of another sexual assault investigation in the Tri-Cities.

He went to trial last year for Doss’ murder, and the judge declared a mistrial. He was scheduled to be tried again in November.

That trial may still happen. Today, lawyers on the case said the Spokane County prosecutor’s office had intended to dismiss the case, but are now reconsidering.

Decisions are made by the elected prosecutor, Larry Haskell. Stefanie Collins, the lead prosecutor on the case, ran against Haskell in the May primary, but lost.

Aguirre’s case has drawn attention from racial justice advocates, who are concerned that the alleged victim, Ruby Doss, may never see justice because of her race and background. Doss was Black, and worked as a sex worker to support her young daughter and boyfriend, who were living in a hotel when she was murdered.

Larry Steinmetz, Spokane County’s chief criminal deputy attorney, said the office is still discussing whether to continue the case. When asked Friday afternoon why he had considered dismissing the case, Haskell said in a text that its not appropriate to discuss legal strategy outside of open court.

For now, the trial is scheduled to begin in mid-November.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.