SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors are expected Wednesday to urge a Northern California jury to find a former photographer guilty of murdering four women decades ago and dumping their bodies in rural areas.
Marin County prosecutors are scheduled to deliver closing arguments in a case that could result in the death penalty if 79-year-old Joseph Naso is found guilty.
Prosecutors have methodically built a case against the former commercial photographer from Reno, Nev. They’ve called some 70 witnesses during the two-month trial to prove that Naso drugged and photographed his victims, then strangled them. He is being investigated as a potential suspect in several unsolved murders.
Naso has pleaded not guilty to murdering the four prostitutes, all of whom had matching first and last initials. Naso has represented himself and called five witnesses in his defense. He also has been admonished several times by the judge for indecorum behavior.
Naso was arrested after a routine check by probation officers of his Reno home turned up numerous photographs of unconscious women in various states of undress. Investigators also discovered DNA matching Naso’s profile on at least one victim, Roxene Roggasch, and a partial DNA match from material collected from under the fingernails of Colon.
Also discovered were photographs — including images of at least one of the victims in the case. In the collection of photographs, women appeared dead or unconscious, authorities said.
Naso characterized the photographs as his art and said all of his “models” were willing participants.
He showed the jury dozens of photographs he took of weddings, landscapes and family members along with what he called “glamour” or “cheesecake” photographs of nude women. He said he never forced any of them to do anything.
But prosecutors say Naso kept a list of his victims, and mementos of his alleged killings.
Near the pile of photos in Naso’s home — with mannequin parts and women’s lingerie strewn about — investigators said they also found a “List of 10” he had scrawled with descriptions of 10 women, including four references prosecutors believe describe the slaying victims in this case.
Naso is charged with murdering Roggasch in 1977, Carmen Colon in 1978, Pamela Parsons in 1993 and Tracy Tafoya in 1994.
Naso is expected to deliver his own arguments Friday. Naso didn’t testify during the trial. He faces the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.