Convicted serial killer Joseph Naso deserves to die for the murders of four prostitutes and likely the murders of two other women, a Marin County prosecutor said this morning.
During her one-hour closing argument in Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael, Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana told the jury that philosophical arguments about the morality of the death penalty are not the subject of their deliberations.
"What punishment does the defendant deserve for killing six women? The answer is the death penalty," Ahana said.
Naso, 79, of Reno, Nev., was convicted Aug. 20 of strangling Roxene Roggasch, Tracy Tafoya, Pamela Parsons and Carmen Colon. Their bodies were found off of rural roads in Contra Costa, Marin and Yuba counties between 1977 and 1994.
The death penalty applies to the slayings of all but Roggasch, because it was not in effect when her body was found in Marin County in 1977.
Ahana during closing arguments showed jurors graphic photos of the victims, pointing out similarities in the strangulation markings he left behind.
"This is a cold, calculated decision to take these women's lives," she said. "The defendant made the coice to kill...he did so over and over and over again."
The prosecution presented evidence during the penalty phase of the trial that Naso also killed Bob Dylan groupie Sara Dylan. Her skull was found in Nevada County in 1992, and Sharieea Patton's body was found on the shore of San Francisco Bay in Tiburon in 1981.
Their deaths can be considered aggravating evidence to support the jury's recommendation of the death penalty.
Ahana and Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote have argued the slayings were done by a sexually sadistic killer who took pleasure in the victims' suffering and deaths and was only concerned with his sexual self-gratification.
The cause of the deaths was strangulation by nylons or pantyhose, Ahana said.
"Nylons are sexually arousing," Ahana said. And she said they allowed Naso to control how long the victims suffered and when they died.
"He can play God," Ahana said.
Sighting testimony that it takes two to five minutes for someone to die of strangulation, Ahana started a two-minute timer during which the courtroom was silent.
The prosecution also introduced Naso's "rape diary" that chronicles his alleged sexual assaults over several decades.
"He did not kill every woman he came across. He chose his victims," Ahana said.
Like other sexually sadistic killers, Naso hid his true self from his family and friends, she said.
"He has always survived on his ability to charm and manipulate. But in his heart of hearts, he is a cold-blooded, ruthless killer," Ahana said.
Ahana also reminded the jury of the photos of some of Naso's half naked victims and news clipplings found in his safe deposit box, items she claims he kept as "trophies."
Ahana told the jury medical experts estimate it takes two to five minutes to kill somebody by strangulation. She set a timer and let it run for two minutes as the jury sat in silence.
"I wanted from the two minutes for them to experience what the victims experienced as they were dying," she said.
Ahana concluded her statement saying, "These women have waited a long time for justice. I ask you to impose the right and just punishment for these crimes, the death penalty."
She said the only ones deserving of sympathy are the victims and their families.
Naso was expected to give his closing argument this afternoon.