ORANGE PARK, Fla. – The trial for one of the men accused in the murder of Navy Cmdr. Alphonso Doss got underway Tuesday with prosecutors laying out their case against Anthony Washington.
Washington is accused of strangling Doss in an Orange Park Hotel room in February 2014. He is charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of burglary with assault or battery.
Doss' estranged wife and another man, Ronnie Wilson II, are also accused in Doss' murder.
Prosecutors said it was an elaborate setup that involved Washington waiting in a room at the Astoria Hotel for Doss to return.
Investigators said that Washington, Yolinda Doss and Wilson plotted to kill Alphonso Doss so that Yolinda Doss could cash in on a $1 million life insurance policy. They said Washington and Wilson tried to make the killing look like it happened during a burglary while Yolinda Doss served as a lookout.
Washington admitted to police that he got into a fight with Doss and left him lying on the hotel room bed “gurgling.”
Crime scene photos were shown for the jury Tuesday in court, and the doctor who performed the autopsy on Doss testified that the injuries he found were consistent with injuries from a strangulation by someone's hands.
The commander’s father was in court Tuesday and did not leave the courtroom, despite the sometimes graphic pictures that were shown. He did appear emotional at times.
Defense attorneys for Washington tried to focus on Doss’ alcohol use as they addressed jurors.
Yolinda Doss and Wilson do not have trial dates set.
Text messages, surveillance video build case in Doss murder
Search warrants allowed investigators to access all three of the suspects' cellphones, and communications leading up to the slaying shows the close relationship between the three and what appears to be their desire for Cmdr. Doss’ death.
"He is becoming more and more inconvenient," Yolinda Doss allegedly wrote about her husband in a text message found among the deleted messages on her phone. It was sent little more than a month before he was strangled to death.
In other text message exchanges, Washington, a man Yolinda admitted to having an affair with, talked with Yolinda Doss about her estranged husband becoming aggressive.
Doss: "The a**hole locked himself in my other office upstairs and he won't leave. This is why my eye was hurting."
Washington: "Is he passed out"
Doss: "Drunk but not passed out just being an ass and wont leave."
Washington: "U up there with him?"
Doss: "Just chill"
Washington: "Want it to happen tonite?"
Washington: "Yes...should I leave?"
Doss: "I'm scared."
Washington: "Go downstairs."
Among the evidence in the court file is surveillance video showing a silver Nissan Titan Extended Cab truck driving by Doss' room at 3:23 p.m. One minute later two people were seen entering Cmdr. Doss' hotel room using one of the keys made for and given to Yolinda Doss earlier that day.
Based on height, investigators believe the two people to be Washington and Wilson. At that same time, phone records reveal the phone believed to be used by Washington placed a call to Yolinda Doss' cellphone.
In the next 23 minutes, four phone calls were made between Yolinda Doss' phone and Washington's phone.
At 4:08 p.m. the surveillance video shows who investigators believe to be Cmdr. Doss trying unsuccessfully to get into his room, then going to the lobby. Investigators say it is perhaps because his card doesn't work.
He then walks into his room minutes later, and around the same time, Yolinda Doss' car is seen pulling into the parking lot across the street.
Minutes after Cmdr. Doss enters the room, Yolinda Doss goes into the lobby to drop off his mail. At 4:49 p.m. two people are seen exiting room 183, then one minute later the silver Nissan Titan is seen leaving the Astoria Hotel parking lot.
Cmdr. Doss is never seen on that video again.
Investigators said Wilson and Washington met at Yolinda Doss' home later for dinner.
Both men told investigators they were at the gym, then at Washinton's parents house, but investigators found out Washington's father owns a silver Nissan Titan, which he lets his son use.
Investigators said Yolinda Doss actually went and got two keys made to her husband's hotel room, and at some point went to the room and used them. They believe that was an attempt to make sure they would work.
One of those keys was used to enter the room at the same time investigators saw the men believed to be the suspects on the surveillance video.