Closing arguments were heard Friday and Monday in the two-month-long trial of accused serial killer Joseph Naso in Marin County, and jurors began deliberations by Monday afternoon. As we've discussed earlier, Naso is, remarkably, serving as his own attorney because he claims he could not afford to do otherwise (with over a million dollars in the bank he did not qualify for a public defender), and courtroom observers interviewed by ABC 7 were not exactly swayed by his closing arguments, which took a day and a half.
"They were just repetitive," said one observer, and another noted that Naso never adequately addressed some key pieces of physical and circumstantial evidence in the case, like his DNA being found on two of the victims, and the infamous List of Ten women, whom he referred to cryptically but which appeared to be a list of his victims and their locations, including the four women whose murders he's standing trial for now.
In a move that sounds a bit desperate, and reflects Naso's inexperience in court trials, he slipped a hand-written letter to Dan Noyes of the ABC 7 I-Team that he expected would be read on air. It discusses the existence of other suspects in the murder of Roxene Roggasch, as if this message were going to somehow reach the jury and help his cause.
In the opening of the trial, prosecutors discussed the existence of a fifth likely victim, Sara Dylan, whose existence they had not discovered until well into the process of evidence gathering.
They also discussed the contents of a diary, kept by Naso, which was used in closing arguments to show Naso's state of mind regarding the many women he claimed to have "overpowered" and likely raped over the years.
The four murders jurors are considering now are those of Roxene Roggasch, 18, who was found near Fairfax in 1977; Carmen Colon, 22, found near Port Costa in 1978; Pamela Parsons, 38, found in Yuba County in 1993; and Tracy Tafoya, 31, found in Yuba County in 1994. You'll note that all the victims had the same first and last initial, which bears an eerie similarity to the unsolved Alphabet Murders in upstate New York in the early 1970s. Naso lived in New York at that time, before relocating to California in the late 70s.
The conclusion of closing arguments on Monday was briefly delayed when the judge brought up the issue of the van belonging to the brother of Roxene Roggasch in the parking lot of the Marin County Civic Center. Larry Roggasch had written messages in soap all over the van's windows saying things like "Joseph Naso killed my sister." Roggasch has been living out of his truck while attending the trial, and Judge Andrew Sweet paused in closing arguments to ask whether any of the jurors had seen the writing on the truck. All but one said no, and the one who saw the van said they did not pause to read what the writing said. Closing arguments then proceeded, and no jurors were dismissed.