Joseph Naso found guilty of murdering four women

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(BCN)

A Marin County jury has found Joseph Naso guilty of killing four women in the Bay Area and Yuba County between 1977 and 1994.

(AP)

After about five and a half hours of deliberations, the jury convicted Naso of four counts of first-degree murder, as well as the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.

Naso, 79, did not visibly react when the verdict was read at about 2:20 p.m. He represented himself in the trial, which began in mid-June, with the help of an advisory counsel.

The jury convicted him of killing Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, and Carmen Colon, a 22-year-old East Bay resident.

Roggasch was found dead off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west of Fairfax on Jan. 11, 1977. Colon’s body was found near Carquinez Scenic Drive in Port Costa in Contra Costa County on Aug. 15, 1978.

Naso, a former commercial photographer, was also found guilty of the murders of Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31, whose bodies were found in Yuba County in September 1993 and August 1994, respectively.

All four women are believed to have worked as prostitutes.

Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote told jurors in her closing argument that Naso picked the women up in his car, then later strangled them and disposed of their bodies.

Naso’s DNA was found in semen collected from the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing when her body was found, prosecutors said.

Evidence against him included a handwritten list that prosecutors allege refers to at least seven women, including the four victims, and contains some of the locations where their bodies were found.

A separate penalty phase of the trial will begin Sept. 4 to determine whether Naso will face capital punishment.

Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana said today that prosecutors are seeking to present evidence during the penalty phase about a fifth murder for which Naso hasn’t been charged.

She would not say which murder, but during the trial prosecutor Rosemary Slote said one of the entries on Naso’s handwritten list, “girl in Woodland, Nevada County,” could refer to a woman named Renee Shapiro.

Shapiro, an avid Bob Dylan fan, changed her name to “Sara Dylan,” and was last seen at a Dylan concert in Hawaii in April 1992, according to prosecutors.

A skull found in Nevada County in 1998 is believed to be that of Shaprio, and a passport and driver’s license with the name “Sara Dylan” were found in Naso’s safe deposit box at a bank in Reno, prosecutors said.

During the trial, the prosecution presented 70 witnesses, and Naso called seven to the stand.

After the jury had left the courtroom today, Naso addressed Judge Andrew Sweet, saying it seemed to him that the jurors seemed uninterested in the details of the case during the trial.

He said he didn’t see them taking a lot of notes and said it appeared to him that they just wanted to “get it over with and go home.”

Sweet asked Naso to clarify what he wanted from the court.

Naso replied, “I’m making a motion to call a mistrial.”

Sweet immediately denied the motion, saying he did not see any evidence of juror misconduct, and called Naso’s concerns “inventive paranoia about what happened in the jury room.”

He told Naso that he could make another motion for a mistrial in writing in the future if he desired.

Jurors began deliberating on Monday afternoon and reached the verdict after their lunch break today.

District Attorney Ed Berberian was in the courtroom when the verdict was read but left without speaking with reporters.

Larry Roggasch, the brother of victim Roxene Roggasch, said after the verdict was announced that it was all still sinking in for him.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.

Asked what he would say to Naso, he replied that he would tell him to take his own life by hanging himself, or to “jump off a bridge, get it over with.”

Roggasch said he would tell jurors, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is some peace for me.”

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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