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‘Double Initial’ Serial Killer Suspect Denied Publicly-Funded Help

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Joseph Naso

Joseph Naso (Washoe County Sheriff’s Office)

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SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – Alleged ‘double initial’ serial killer Joseph Naso’s request for advisory counsel at public expense was denied by a Marin County judge Friday morning.

Naso, 77, of Reno, is charged with the murders of four Northern California women, including two from the Bay Area, between 1977 and 1994.  His alleged victims all have the same initial for the their first and last names.

Naso has claimed he does not have access to his assets and can’t afford to hire an attorney to represent him so he is representing himself.

The Marin County District Attorney’s Office has contended that Naso has $1 million in liquid assets. The county’s public defender’s office has also said his assets disqualify him from their representation.

Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet ruled earlier this month that Naso is entitled to the services of an attorney to advise him, but he left open the question of who should pay for it.

Prosecutors believe Naso murdered Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya from 1977 to 1994.

Authorities in upstate New York are also looking into whether Naso was involved in the notorious ‘double initial’ killings in the early 1970, where all victims also had matching initials for their first and last names.  One of the New York victims was also named Carmen Colon.

At Friday’s hearing on the issue, citing what he called “a very thorough report” on Naso’s finances by deputy county counsel Thomas Lyons, the judge told Naso he has the money to pay for an attorney to advise him and that he could not in good conscience have the public pay for it.

Sweet sealed the report from the district attorney’s office, the public and the media so that only Naso will get a copy of it.

Naso told the judge he believes “something is going on behind my back” because his wife, who was his power of attorney until Jan. 1, recently informed him that she cannot access his money in her account.

Naso said he believes his wife has been instructed by law enforcement to not to access his money, which he said is in four banks in Reno, Nev.

Sweet said he has seen no evidence of any such alleged conspiracy.

Naso also criticized the media and the prosecution for portraying him as “cheap” because he has chosen to represent himself rather than pay for an attorney.

“I’m not cheap, I do spend my money, I spend a lot of it,” he said, mentioning his past purchases of vehicles with cash.

Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana told the judge that Naso’s Wells Fargo checkbook will be placed with his property at the jail today.

Naso seemed surprised by the news.

“Oh, that’s fine,” he said. “See, there is something going on

behind my back.”

Naso is charged with the murders of Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland; Carmen Colon, 22, an East Bay resident; and Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracey Tayofa, 31, both of Yuba County.

Roggasch’s body was found in Marin County and Colon’s was found in Contra Costa County.

Naso was arrested without a warrant by Marin County sheriff’s investigators on April 11 in South Lake Tahoe when he was released from El Dorado County Jail where he was serving one year for a probation violation.

The probable cause documents in support of his arrest state that all four women were working as prostitutes at the time of their deaths.

The documents cite evidence—including DNA, writings, newspaper articles, women’s photos and a list of women’s names and locations—that allegedly implicate the former self-employed photographer of aspiring models in the killings.

New York authorities are also investigating whether could have been involved in the strangulation murders of three Catholic girls, ages 10 and 11, between 1971 and 1973 in the Rochester area.

Naso lived in that area in the 1960s and is believed to have moved west in 1969, New York State Police said.

All seven California and New York victims’ names had first and last names that started with the same letter.

Court proceedings so far have centered on Naso’s access to his bank records and money, the prosecution’s request that Naso provide handwriting samples, Naso’s request for forms required to subpoena witnesses, and other normally routine legal proceedings that have been complicated by his decision to represent himself.

Rather than filing typed motions with the court, Naso has been writing requests by hand and reading them to Sweet during the proceedings.

Naso’s preliminary hearing, scheduled for Sept. 6, was expected to last several days.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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