Judge Clears Joseph Naso to Represent Self

Naso has been representing himself since his arrest on April 11 in South Lake Tahoe.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP Photo/Washoe County Sheriff's office)
    Joseph Naso faces the death penalty.

    A Marin County Superior Court judge approved Joseph  Naso's waiver of his right to an attorney, clearing the way for the 78-year-old Reno man to represent himself in his trial for four Northern  California murders that occurred between 1977 and 1994.

    Judge Andrew Sweet said he found Naso mentally capable, literate and fully informed, and therefore able to continue acting as his own  attorney.
       
    After again informing Naso of the advantages of having an attorney and the pitfalls of representing himself, Sweet asked Naso if he still wanted to waive his right to have an attorney.

    "At this point, yes," Naso said.

    Sweet found at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing last month  that there was enough evidence to try Naso for the murders of four women in  Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties.

    In addition to the four murder charges, he faces a  special-circumstance allegation of committing multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

    Naso is scheduled to re-enter pleas on Feb. 29.

    Sweet asked Naso this morning if he knew the penalty for  committing multiple murders.

    "I have an idea," Naso replied.

    When informed that he faces the death penalty and not life in prison, Naso said he still wants to represent himself.

    Naso said he doesn't want an attorney because he would be unable to communicate freely with one in jail and it would delay the start of a  trial.

    "I don't want this case to drag on for years. I want to get out of here as soon as I can, this year I hope," Naso said.

    He also said having an attorney would preclude him from actively participating in his defense.

    "I'd be on the sidelines and told, 'Don't interrupt,' and 'Be quiet,'" Naso said.

    Naso is charged with killing Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, in Marin County in 1977; Carmen Colon, 22, in Port Costa in Contra Costa County  in 1978; Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya in Yuba County in 1993 and 1994  respectively.

    Testimony during Naso's preliminary hearing indicated that the women, who worked as prostitutes, were strangled and dumped along rural  roads.

    During the nine-day preliminary hearing last month, the prosecution presented DNA evidence linking Naso to Roggasch's murder. Her body was found near Fairfax on Jan. 11, 1977.

    A criminalist testified that semen found on the pantyhose Roggasch  was wearing inside out was likely Naso's and that Naso's now ex-wife Judith's DNA was found on pantyhose wrapped around Roggasch's neck.

    Bay City News