Wife, 2 others plead not guilty in Navy commander's killing

Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss
Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The three people accused of killing U.S. Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss have pleaded not guilty.

Doss' wife, 44-year-old Yolinda Doss, along with 29-year-old Anthony Washington and 33-year-old Ronnie Wilson were indicted last week on first-degree murder charges.

Investigators said Yolinda Doss was hoping to collect more than $1 million from her estranged husband's life insurance policy.

Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss
Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss

Investigators said Alphonso Doss was strangled in an Orange Park motel room in February. They said Yolinda Doss played lookout across the street as the two men broke into Alponso Doss' room, waited for him to return and strangled him.

Investigators said the suspects made the killing look like a burglary. They said Yolinda Doss and Washington confessed to the crime, but Wilson remained silent. So why did all three plead not guilty at their arraignments?

"It is reasonable for every defendant to enter a plea of not guilty, at least in the beginning, so their lawyer can research whether or not the state can truly prove the charges against them," said attorney Gene Nichols, who's not affiliated with the case.

He said it's common their lawyers will try to get the least punishment possible and maybe get a deal, while prosecutors will try for the highest charges they can prove.

"If they need one of the co-defendants, then they will start that conversation with defense lawyers," Nichols said. "If they don't, if all the evidence is there to convict all three, then you can fully expect Ms. (Angela) Corey's office to prosecute all three, not have him testify against each other, and to get sentences on all three of them. So just depends on how much evidence the state has to prove all three cases."

Washington and Yolinda Doss will be back in court Sept. 30. Wilson will be in court Sept. 29.

Alphonso Doss (pictured) and his wife were separated at the time of his death, and their Southside home was placed in foreclosure last year.

Alphonso Doss' father, Tom Allen, said Wednesday his son's killing has been a nightmare. But he's confident in the court system and the prosecutors in the case and hopes someday he'll get justice.

"He was a decorated Navy commander, very achieved. But he was just my son to me," Allen said.

He said if the defendants are found guilty, "I want them to get the brunt of the punishment, whatever first-degree murder calls for. I want justice for my son. He did not deserve this.

"The frustrating part is the fact that my son is dead and my granddaughter does not have a father and she does not have a mother. And with murder one, potentially she will never have a mother again."

Allen said the Doss' 16-year-old daughter is staying with family and is trying to live a normal life as best she can.