SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) – Joseph Naso, the Reno man accused of killing four women in Northern California between 1977 and 1994, Friday morning adamantly asserted his right to represent himself at his trial.
Naso, 78, told Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet he does not want the county public defender’s office involved in his case.
“I will say it loud and clear so everyone hears. I don’t want the public defender replacing me,” Naso said.
Naso was held over for trial last month on charges of killing Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland in Marin County in 1977; Carmen Colon, 22, in Port Costa in Contra Costa County in 1978; Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya in Yuba County in 1993 and 1994, respectively.
Testimony during Naso’s preliminary hearing indicated the women, who worked as prostitutes, were strangled and dumped along rural roads.
Naso has been representing himself in court and did not re-enter pleas to the charges and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders that subjects him to the death penalty.
Sweet asked Naso last week to fill out a questionnaire regarding his intention to continue representing himself.
“The court has to make sure you are aware of your right to counsel and that your waiver of that right is voluntary,” Sweet said.
Naso told the judge he misplaced the questionnaire.
“I’d like to take a rain check on that,” Naso said. He told the judge he has been secretly trying to obtain advisory counsel.
Sweet said he is prepared to appoint a public defender to represent Naso. He said whether Naso would have to pay for one would be determined after the trial.
Naso has claimed he cannot afford an attorney. The Marin County District Attorney’s Office has argued Naso has $1 million in liquid assets.
Naso told Sweet he “wouldn’t spend one nickel on this kind of representation.
“If I had the three best attorneys in the county and it didn’t cost a nickel, I’d still have to think about it,” Naso said.
“Attorneys like to age cases,” he said. “I’m thinking of not waiving my time and to get on with the trial.”
Naso also said there is no privacy in jail regarding communications with an attorney.
“We can’t shake hands and exchange papers,” Naso said.
Naso then said he didn’t care to fill out the questionnaire.
“I may not grant you the right to represent yourself if you don’t fill it out,” Sweet replied.
“If I fill it out, it will be under duress,” Naso said.
He also said he didn’t want the questionnaire to become a public document.
Sweet said he would seal the questionnaire. “No one will see it but you and me,” the judge said.
Naso is scheduled to return to court Wednesday morning with the questionnaire.
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