US

Convicted California serial killer gets death

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — A judge sentenced a man to death Friday in the decades-old killings of four women with matching initials, saying the serial killer has "made this world a worse place."

Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet called 79-year-old Joseph Naso an "evil and disturbed man" as he issued the sentence, the Marin Independent Journal reported (http://bit.ly/18dYh1J). Jurors had recommended the death penalty.

Sweet said Naso inflicted "abhorrent and repugnant levels of suffering and cruelty" on the victims. "You being in this world, Mr. Naso, has made this world a worse place," Sweet said. The former photographer was convicted of strangling four prostitutes in Northern California with matching initials: Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya.

Naso represented himself at trial, often coming off as confused and ornery. He called five witnesses, but did not testify himself. In his closing argument, he told the jury he was no monster and did not kill the women. On Friday, he said the prosecution was a "hate crime" against him, and he shouldn't have been arrested or charged, the Marin Independent Journal reported. The newspaper said Naso was seen raising his middle finger to the courtroom audience.

Prosecutors presented a trove of evidence collected from Naso's Reno, Nev., home, including photographs of partially nude women appearing dead or knocked out, and a journal describing rapes of numerous underage girls and women dating back to the 1950s.

Investigators also found a "List of 10," featuring descriptions and references to the killings and the rural areas where the bodies were dumped. Prosecutors also introduced evidence that Naso had killed two other women, Sharileea Patton and Sara Dylan, although he was not charged with their deaths.

Sweet heard from family members of the victims at the sentencing hearing. "We lost the ability to have love from a mother," Rachael Smith, one of Carmen Colon's daughters, told the judge. "I don't want him to die. I want him to sit there alone. I want him to feel what it's like to lose everything."

Despite the death sentence, Naso is unlikely to see the state's death chamber. There are 745 inmates already on California's Death Row and executions have been on hold since 2006, when a federal judge ordered an overhaul of California's execution protocol.

It's expected to take at least another year for prison officials to properly adopt the state's new single-drug execution method and have it cleared by the judge.

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