SAN RAFAEL (CBS 5) — Prosecutors began detailing their case Tuesday against a suspected serial killer charged in the decades-old slayings of four women from the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California with matching initials.
The preliminary hearing against Joseph Naso, a 78-year-old photographer who is representing himself, could take a week to complete in Marin County court. District Attorney Ed Berberian has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty in the case.
On Tuesday, the judge in the case allowed Naso to be unshackled and also gave him a pen and legal pad so that he could take notes during the hearing.
Naso was arrested in April after a routine search of his Reno, Nevada, home for a probation violation on a larceny conviction.
The probation officer who conducted the search was the first witness called to testify by the prosecution on Tuesday. The Nevada Department of Public Safety officer, Roger Jacobs, said he found a numbered list identifying ten women, including the four prostitutes Naso is charged with killing: Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya.
Jacobs also testified that with the list he found photos of women in “unnatural” poses while partially or fully nude — some appearing to be asleep, some unconscious and some unresponsive. He noted that Naso kept news clippings about the slayings of the women in a safety deposit box.
Naso has pleaded not guilty to the four murders, which took place between 1977 and 1994.
Authorities said the six other women mentioned on Naso’s list – which included geographic locations – had yet to be identified. In addition, investigators said they were looking for possible links to New York’s “Double Initial Murders” of three girls, each with matching initials, in the early 1970s.
At this week’s hearing, prosecutors are presenting evidence to a judge who will decide if they have enough to send Naso to trial.
A probable cause statement filed with the court last year said Naso might have used his then-wife’s panty hose to strangle Roggasch, a prostitute whose 1977 murder went unsolved for decades. Authorities said the DNA of Naso’s ex-wife was found on the hose.
Roggasch’s body was found near Lagunitas, a small town near the coast in Marin County.
Colon’s decomposed body was found in 1978 by a California Highway Patrol officer in Port Costa in Contra Costa County. Authorities have said DNA evidence collected from her fingernails could tie Naso to her slaying.
Parsons’ strangled body was found in Yuba City in 1993, where Naso was living at the time with his mentally ill son. Court documents stated that Naso had photographed Parsons.
Tafoya was also a Yuba City woman killed when Naso lived there. Her body was found on the side of Highway 70 near Marysville Cemetery in 1994.
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