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Suspect In Cold Case Killings Can Represent Himself

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Joseph Naso (credit: Marin County Sheriff's Dept.)

Joseph Naso (credit: Marin County Sheriff’s Dept.)

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SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — A man charged with killing four Northern California women with matching first and last initials can act as his own attorney in what is expected to be a death penalty case, a judge ruled Friday.

   Defendant Joseph Naso is also being investigated for possible links to New York’s “Double Initial Murders” — killings in the early 1970s of three girls, each with matching initials.

   In California, Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet said Naso understood his right to waive counsel.

   “I’m satisfied he’s been advised and aware of the dangers and pitfalls,” Sweet said.

   Naso, 77, has said he knows the case better than anyone else and didn’t want to exhaust his financial resources on attorneys.

   After Sweet’s ruling, Naso said he was not yet ready to enter a plea and requested all the district attorney’s evidence related to the case.

   “I live alone in a cell with no roommates. I have a lot of time on my hands and would like the opportunity to get started,” he said.

   The four Northern California women were killed in the 1970s and 1990s. All had matching initials: Carmen Colon, Roxene Roggasch, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya.

   Naso was living most recently with his 49-year-old mentally ill son near Reno, Nev.

   Authorities said they found an “enormous” amount of evidence while searching his home following a probation violation stemming from a theft conviction.

   Prosecutors have maintained that Naso has the financial means to hire counsel.

   Outside court Friday, District Attorney Ed Berberian said he has experience handling cases in which a defendant has represented himself.

   “It’s not either easier or harder. It’s just different,” he said.

   (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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