SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — The testimony portion of the two-month trial of an elderly commercial photographer charged with killing four young women with alliterative initials in their names comes to a close Friday.
Joseph Naso, 79, will get one last chance to convince a Northern California jury that police arrested the wrong man and that he had nothing to do with two killings in the 1970s and two more in the 1990s.
Naso is s charged with killing four prostitutes with the same first and last initials: 18-year-old Roxene Roggasch in 1977; 22-year-old Carmen Colon in 1978; 38-year-old Pamela Parsons in 1993; and 31-year-old Tracy Tafoya in 1994. Naso has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty if Naso is found guilty of first-degree murder.
Whether the “double initials” in each victim’s name was a coincidence or a plan, investigators have not said.
Naso is representing himself and he will attempt to counter the 70 witnesses, a so-called “rape journal” and genetic material prosecutors say link him to at least one victim when he gives his final pitch to the Marin County Superior Court jury.
Marin County deputy district attorney Rosemary Slote during her closing arguments this week read from a diary Naso allegedly kept with entries dating back to the 1950s and gave descriptions of rape and sexual assault, local media reported.
Naso called seven witnesses of his own, but did not take the stand himself. He has been admonished several times by the judge for his behavior and unlawyer-like demeanor at times.
Investigators discovered DNA matching Naso’s profile on at least one victim, Roggasch, and a partial DNA match from material collected from under the fingernails of Colon.
Naso said DNA evidence is inconclusive.
Also discovered were photographs — including images of at least one of the victims in the case — of women who appeared dead or unconscious and what prosecutors called a “rape journal” during a search of Naso’s Reno, Nev., house.
Naso characterized the photographs as his art and said all of his “models” were willing participants.
He showed the jury dozens of photographs he took of weddings, landscapes and family members along with what he called “glamour” or “cheesecake” photographs of nude women. He said he never forced any of them to do anything.
Authorities around the country have also looked at Naso as a suspect in cold cases.