Prosecution Asks Jury to Convict Joseph Naso of First-Degree Murder

The accused serial killer is a former Piedmont resident.

Joseph Naso. Photo credit: Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
Joseph Naso. Photo credit: Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
By Bay City News Service

A Marin County prosecutor asked jurors Wednesday afternoon to find accused serial killer Joseph Naso, a former Piedmont resident, guilty of the premeditated, first-degree murders of four prostitutes in three counties between 1977 and 1994.

Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote said Naso, 79, of Reno, "targeted" the four women because he knew they were accustomed to getting into a stranger's car.

He then took them home, isolated them, strangled them and dumped their bodies along rural roads in Marin, Contra Costa, and Yuba counties, Slote said.

"He followed the same pattern in 1977, 1978, 1993 and 1994," Slote said. "He knew what he was doing year, after year, after year after year. This is willful and deliberate pre-meditated murder."

Evidence presented at the Marin County Superior Court trial that began in June includes photographs of women, including one of the murder victims, dressed in nylons, heels and lingerie. In some of the photographs that were found in Naso's Reno home, the women appeared to be unconscious or dead.

The former portrait and model photographer has defended the photos as artistic glamour "pin-up and cheesecake" photography.

Slote and Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana presented DNA evidence they claim links Naso to the murder of Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, and Carmen Colon, 22, an East Bay resident.

Roggasch's body was found on Jan. 11, 1977, 12 feet off the side of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near Fairfax.

Prosecutors say the DNA of Naso's wife Judith was found on pantyhose that were wrapped around Roggasch's neck, and Naso's DNA was found on the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing inside out. Another pair of pantyhose was stuffed in her mouth and another pair was wrapped around her knees.

Prosecutors say Naso's DNA also was found under the finger nail clipping that were taken from Carmen Colon's decomposed body after it was found off Carquinez Scenic Drive near Port Costa in Contra Costa County on Aug. 14, 1978.

"The DNA evidence is strong and uncontroverted," Slote said.

Naso also is charged with the murders of Pamela Parsons, 38, of Linda in Yuba County, whom Naso has admitted photographing, and Tracey Tafoya, 31, also of Yuba County where Naso once lived.

Parsons' body was found off a rural Road in Yuba County on Sept. 19, 1993, and Tafoya's badly decomposed body was found on Aug. 14, 1994, near Marysville Cemetery.

Slote said Parsons' body contained marks from a ligature that indicated she was strangled, and that Tafoya's and Colon's deaths were violent and likely involved strangulation.

"The evidence supports each of the woman was strangled," she said.

The prosecution's evidence also includes a "list of 10" found in Naso's home, Slote said. It contains references to the four murder victims and the areas where their bodies were found

 Photographs of Parsons were found in Naso's Reno home and newspaper articles about Tafoya's and Parsons' deaths and their obituaries were found in a Naso's safety deposit box at the US Bank in Reno, Slote said.

Naso claimed Parsons "ripped him off" when he photographed her and Parsons had "a theft problem" and might have taken one of Naso's cameras, Slote said.
In a calendar entry around the time Parsons disappeared, Naso wrote, "took care of an old account," Slote said.

Naso is suspected of killing a Texas woman, Rene Shapiro, who changed her name to Sara Dylan because she was a huge fan of Bob Dylan and attended all his concerts. She was last seen in April 1992 and her skull was found in Woodland.

"Girl near Woodland" appears on Naso's list of 10, and Sara Dylan's passport, driver's license and articles about Bob Dylan were found in Naso's safety deposit box, Slote said.

Naso is not charged with her murder.

"We believe he encountered her in Woodland," Slote said.

Like the four prostitutes, the itinerant Sara Dylan would have been a likely target for Naso, Slote said.

Slote began her closing argument by reading entries from a diary Naso kept between 1950 and 1970.

It contains written accounts of women he picked up and raped in Cleveland, Wichita, Kansas City, London, England, Rochester, N.Y. where Naso once lived, and Oakland during that time period.

Naso writes how he "put it to" the women during the forced sex in his car or at a residence.

He mentions his penchant for "women with shapely legs who dress in nylons and heels."

"I was obsessed with lust," "I was driven by lust" and "I couldn't help myself," he writes regarding the serial rapes.

Slote told the jury the killings were pre-meditated first-degree murder, and that the premeditation "could be a matter of seconds."

"Strangulation in and of itself is premeditated murder. He had to pull on the ligatures and hold it tight for five minutes," she told the jury.

"Death takes two to five minutes. You are literally holding that person's life in your hands. He could have released his hands. He had all the power and control over the situation."

Naso is representing himself with the help of advisory counsel, Deputy Public Defender Pedro Oliveros. He will give his closing argument Friday morning.

If he is convicted of committing multiple murders, the jury will decide after a separate trial whether he should be sentenced to death.

Naso lived in Piedmont with his wife and sons during the 1970s. You can read more about Naso's life in Piedmont here.You can read more about Naso's life in Piedmont here.

Copyright © 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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