San Francisco: A former photographer was convicted of murdering four young California women decades ago after a two-month trial in which prosecutors called him a remorseless serial killer who preyed on young prostitutes.
Jurors deliberated for about eight hours over two days in court before finding Joseph Naso, 79, yesterday guilty of slaying the four women with alliterative names: Roxene Roggasch in 1977, Carmen Colon in 1978, Pamela Parsons in 1993 and Tracy Tafoya in 1994.
The jury of six men and six women will reconvene Sept 4 to determine if Naso gets the death penalty.
Even if Naso is sentenced to death, it is unlikely he will be executed. There are 725 inmates already on California`s Death Row and executions have been on hold since 2006, when a federal judge ordered an overhaul of California`s execution protocol. It will take at least another year for prison officials to properly adopt the state`s new single-drug execution method and have it cleared by the judge.
All the victims were found dumped in rural Northern California locations. Roggasch`s body was found in Marin County and was the reason Naso`s trial was held in the historical Marin Civic Centre designed by noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Colon was found in Contra Costa County and the other two victims in Yuba County. Investigators believe Naso could be responsible for as many as six more murders and authorities are exploring Naso`s connections to several unsolved murders.
Naso was arrested in 2010 after probation officers visiting his Reno, Nevada home in connection with an unrelated gun conviction discovered a macabre dwelling with incriminating evidence.
Investigators found numerous photographs of nude women posed in unnatural positions who appeared dead or unconscious with mannequin parts and lingerie strewn about nearby.
Investigators said they also found a "List of 10" that Naso had scrawled with descriptions of 10 women, including references prosecutors believe described the four victims he was charged with killing.
Prosecutors said Naso drugged and photographed his unconscious victims then strangled them and disposed of their naked bodies.
Naso acted as his own attorney and told jurors during his closing arguments that he often hired prostitutes to photograph in exotic poses and enjoyed off-beat art. But he insisted he was no killer.