SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a 79-year-old man charged with the decades-old slayings of four women in Northern California wiped tears from their eyes on Monday, as a prosecutor showed graphic images of the victims' bodies and described how they were discovered.
Marin County prosecutor Rosemary Slote showed the photographs during her opening statement in the trial of Joseph Naso, who she called a "serial rapist and murderer." In one, a young woman had nylon stockings stuffed in her mouth and another pair tied around her neck.
Naso, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances for the slayings of four women — all prostitutes with matching initials: 18-year-old Roxene Roggasch in 1977; 22-year-old Carmen Colon in 1978; 38-year-old Pamela Parsons in 1993; and 31-year-old Tracy Tafoya in 1994, which led to the "Double Initial' moniker for the killings. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Naso, wearing a dark suit and spectacles instead of his usual jail clothes, watched the prosecutor's presentation with little reaction. He is representing himself and is expected to make his opening statement Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors say Naso drugged and photographed his unconscious victims, then strangled them and dumped their naked bodies in rural areas.
Slote also read from sections of a diary found at Naso's home that detailed violent rapes of women.
In a 1961 entry, the journal describes a man picking a girl up and raping her in a car in the Berkeley Hills.
"I pulled up her skirt and put it to her," Slote said, reading from the journal.
Naso was arrested at the time on suspicion of assault. Prosecutors say the woman named in that entry will testify about the incident.
Authorities around the country have also looked at Naso as a suspect in cold cases. Whether Naso sought out women with double initials is unclear, but in one cold case that prosecutors believe he may have ties to, the victim does not follow that pattern.
Marin County prosecutors have built a significant case against Naso.
Investigators discovered DNA matching Naso's profile on at least one victim, Roggasch, and a partial DNA match from material collected from under the fingernails of Colon.
Also discovered were photographs — including images of at least one of the victims in the case — and what prosecutors called a "rape journal" during a search of Naso's Reno, Nev., house.
Naso characterized the sadistic photographs as his art and said all of his "models" were willing participants.
Near the pile of photos in Naso's home — with mannequin parts and women's lingerie strewn about — investigators said they also found a "List of 10" he had scrawled with descriptions of 10 women, including four references prosecutors believe describe the slaying victims in this case.
Slote also said she believed investigators had identified a fifth woman on the list: No. 8, "Girl in Woodland (Nevada County)." Slot said she believed No. 8 is a reference to a missing girl named Sara Dylan.
Dylan's passport was found in Naso's safe deposit box, along with news clippings covering the slayings of Parsons and Tafoya, which Naso had laminated with photographs he had taken of each woman, and $152,400 in cash.
A skull found in Nevada County held DNA matching Dylan's mother's profile, Slote said.
Naso is not charged with Dylan's murder, but the jury heard evidence about her case as prosecutors sought to tie Naso's list to more cold cases.
There is no indication that any of the five other women referred to on the list have been identified, but prosecutors have said the investigation is ongoing.