SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A photographer accused of killing four northern California women whose first and last names began with the same letter was given permission on Friday to act as his own attorney as the case proceeds.
Joseph Naso, 77, told Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet in the northern California city of San Rafael that he could do a better job defending himself than a lawyer, said Barry Borden, Marin County chief deputy district attorney.
Aside from being charged with four California murders that occurred between 1977 and 1994, Naso has been named as a possible suspect in the killings of three girls in Rochester, New York during the 1970s.
Those girls, all aged 10 or 11, also had alliterative first and last names, and one of them, Carmen Colon, even had the same name as one of the California victims. But authorities have not charged Naso in the upstate New York cases.
Authorities said they began investigating Naso in connection with the California slayings last year after a search of his Reno, Nevada, home by a state parole and probation officer turned up evidence tying him to the 1977 slaying of Roxene Roggasch. The 18 year-old woman’s body was found in a rural area near the Marin County town of Fairfax.
Investigators then linked Naso, who worked as a photographer, to the murder of 22-year-old Carmen Colon, whose body was found in 1978 near the Bay-area community of Port Costa. He also is charged in the 1993 killing of Pamela Parsons, 38, and the 1994 murder of Tracy Tafoya, both in Yuba County, California.
The public defenders office determined that Naso, who was charged last month with four counts of murder by Marin County prosecutors, is not eligible for their services because he has funds to hire a lawyer.
The alliterative nature of the California victims’ names drew interest in their possible link to the “double-initial murders” in Rochester of Carmen Colon, Wanda Walkowicz and Michelle Maenza.
Bob Hetzke, chief deputy of the Wayne County, New York, Sheriff’s Department, told Reuters last month that detectives were aware of the California cases linked to Naso, who once lived in Rochester.
Hetzke could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Naso is due back in court on May 27 to enter a plea.
Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune