A jury on Tuesday found a former photographer guilty of murdering four young California women after a two-month trial in which prosecutors called him a remorseless serial killer who preyed on young prostitutes decades ago.
The jury of six men and six women in Marin County Superior Court deliberated for about eight hours over two days before finding Joseph Naso, 79, guilty of killing the women with alliterative names: Roxene Roggasch in 1977, Carmen Colon in 1978, Pamela Parsons in 1993 and Tracy Tafoya in 1994.
The same jury will reconvene Sept. 4 for the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
All the victims were found dumped in rural Northern California locations.
Naso was arrested in 2010 after probation officers visiting his Reno, Nev., home in connection with an unrelated gun conviction discovered a macabre dwelling with incriminating evidence.
Investigators found numerous photographs of nude women posed in unnatural positions who appeared dead or unconscious with mannequin parts and women's lingerie strewn about nearby. Investigators said they also found a "List of 10" that Naso had scrawled with descriptions of 10 women, including four references prosecutors believe described the slaying victims in the case against him.
Prosecutors said Naso drugged and photographed his unconscious victims then strangled them and dumped their naked bodies in rural areas.
Naso acted as his own attorney at the trial and told the jury during his closing arguments that he often hired prostitutes to photograph in exotic poses and enjoyed off-beat art. But he insisted he was no killer.
Nonetheless, the balding Naso, who often seemed befuddled and repeated himself several times during his more than day-long closing arguments, struggled to explain away some of the most persuasive evidence presented to the jury.
Jurors were told that Naso's DNA was found on the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing when her body was found. Further, the DNA of Naso's ex-wife was found on pantyhose found wrapped around Roggasch's neck, prosecutors said.
Naso told the jury that the evidence only showed that he had had sex with Roggasch. He said there was no proof that he killed her, and that prosecutors had no way of knowing who put the other pantyhose around her neck.