SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — Convicted serial killer Joseph Naso asked a Marin County jury to spare his life during his two-hour closing argument Monday afternoon.
Naso, 79, of Reno Nev., faces the death penalty or life in prison without parole for killing four prostitutes between 1977 and 1994. Their bodies were found off rural roads in Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties. He is representing himself with help from advisory counsel, attorney Pedro Oliveros.
The prosecution believes Naso killed two other women although he is not charged with their deaths. Prosecutors Dori Ahana and Rosemary Slote presented evidence and testimony about them as aggravating factors to support the death penalty.
“I do have a lot of remorse for all the victims, their loved ones and their families, and have a lot or remorse for all the people who passed away in war and combat,” Naso said.
In his closing argument, Naso disputed some of the prosecution’s evidence. He also told the 21 members of the jury — 12 of whom will decide his fate starting Tuesday morning—that mitigating factors against the death penalty are that he was a good father and family man who was active in the Little League, the Cub Scouts and the American Legion.
He said he was both the conservator and guardian of his son who has suffered from a mental disorder for the past 25 years.
“I made sacrifices for him,” Naso said. He said dating, good times and vacations “took a back seat” as he concentrated on his son’s welfare.
“I wanted him to share what I could make available for him” Naso said.
Naso said he still monitors his son’s progress in a treatment home.
“If I get life, I can call him on the phone and keep in touch with his treatment team,” he said.
Naso said it would please him if he were able to advocate on behalf of prisoners with mental health issues.
Ahana and Slote cited a “rape diary” to support their contention that Naso is a sexually sadistic serial killer and rapist who targeted vulnerable women and lured them as a modeling photographer.
“I never presented myself to be someone I wasn’t,” Naso said.
In the diary, Naso allegedly chronicles forced sex with women over
several decades. Naso called it a “date diary”, and said only two women that he picked up at a bus stop and had sex with in 1958 and 1961 filed complaints against him.
He said he was a young man in his 20s then and now he can’t believe the things he once did.
“I’m not that person now,” Naso said. “I was reckless, careless and curious about sex,” he said.
“I exaggerated sometimes in my writings about making out with people,” Naso said.
He said he did not date any of the six slain women and had a lot of dates he did not record in his diary.
Regarding testimony by his ex-wife Judith that he drugged her and watched as two men had sex with her in a San Francisco hotel, Naso said. “It was just a wild party, a wild night. Everyone survived, nothing serious,” he said.
He also told the jury he brought joy to people’s lives through his commercial photography, and will remember the happy times he had photographing weddings.
“I think I deserve to live,” he said. “I would like to stay alive and do what I can to help others, not just look at four walls,” he said.
“I made a lot of mistakes, some that have gotten me where I am today,” he said.
“I want to be a friend to myself. I want to control myself and live as good a life as I can and do what I can do to make up for the shortcomings I have,” Naso said.
He asked the jury to think independently and not fear the state or the court “if you find in my favor.”
“Be strong in your own mind and stick by it. Please, if you like to keep me alive, vote for that,” he said.
He told the jury he wished he had a group photo of them.
“I thank you and I wish you well,” he concluded.
The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
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