SAN RAFAEL — A jury on Tuesday recommended a death sentence for Joseph Naso, a 79-year-old former photographer convicted of the decades-old killings of four Northern California women.
The panel deliberated for about four hours before reaching its decision in the penalty phase of the case. Earlier in the day, the jury heard closing arguments from Naso, who represented himself and asked the jury to spare his life.
He will be formally sentenced at a later date by Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet.
Naso was previously convicted of four counts of murder in the deaths of prostitutes with matching initials — Roxene Roggasch, Carmen Colon, Pamela Parsons and Tracy Tafoya. The victims were strangled and dumped in rural areas.
Prosecutors had argued for the death sentence, presenting grisly photos of the lifeless bodies. Prosecutor Dori Ahana let a timer tick down from two minutes to zero — the time it takes an asphyxiated person to die.
Naso told the jury that he "was not the monster that killed these women."
Even though the jury recommended death, it is unlikely Naso would be executed if the judge agrees with the panel. There are 725 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 will 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.
The four killings were cold cases until 2009, when probation officers in Reno, Nev., conducted a routine firearms search of Naso's home. He was on probation at the time for a felony larceny conviction in California.
Inside was a macabre collection of evidence that led to his conviction. Police found a "List of 10" featuring references to the killings, photographs of women appearing drugged or dead, and a journal with detailed descriptions of rape and violence toward underage girls and women.