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Jury Recommends Death for Convicted Serial Killer Joseph Naso

Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet will have the final say on Naso's fate

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jodi Hernandez gets reaction to Joseph Naso's death sentence. (Published Tuesday, Sep 17, 2013)

    The six man, six woman Marin County jury recommended convicted serial killer Joseph Naso should get the death penalty for his crimes.

    The jury made its announcement just before 4 p.m California time, following less than five hours of deliberations.

    Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet will have the final say on Naso's fate.

    Prosecutor Dori Ahana said after the verdict was read, "It's justice for the victims, which is what we were seeking from the beginning."

    If Sweet follows the jury's recommendation, Naso will be transferred to San Quentin in the coming weeks, where he will sit on death row with the likes of Richard Allen Davis and Scott Peterson.

    Naso’s defense attorney read a statement after the sentence was announced in which the convicted serial killer says he hopes to help other inmates while he’s in prison. “I’m on the threshold of a new life, and I will make the best of it,” he said. He also said he was pleased the jury listened to his "mitigation arguments."

    Naso, representing himself, requested that his official sentencing be delayed to give him time to think. He is next due in court on Friday.

    In August, Naso was found guilty in the deaths of four Northern California women who were killed in the 1970s and 1990s.

    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.

    All four victims are believed to have worked as prostitutes, and their murders became known as the "alphabet murders" because their first and last names all began with the same letter.

    The murders were classified cold cases for years until 2009, when probation officers in Reno conducted a routine firearms search of Naso's home and found a macabre collection of evidence that led to his capture and conviction.

    Anglelique McDonald, daughter of Carmen Colon, says not a day goes by that she doesn't think about her mother.

    "This is a rest for us. She can rest in peace and know justice was serged for her finally," McDonald said. 

    McDonald said she was hoping for a death sentence. "I'm just glad it's over with," she said. Asked if she wanted Naso to die, she said "yes."

    Even though the jury recommended death, it is unlikely Naso would be executed if the judge agrees with the panel. There are 725 inmates already on California's Death Row and executions have been on hold since 2006, when a federal judge ordered an overhaul of California's execution protocol.
     
    It will take at least another year for prison officials to properly adopt the state's new single-drug execution method and have it cleared by the judge.

    Before deliberations started, the judge gave Naso 10 additional minutes to re-open his closing arguments and make one last pitch to the jury to spare his life.

    "I have regrets," said Naso who added he would have done some things differently in his life.

    He told jurors he is a caring person. "I feel I should be given life and not death."

    The jury began deliberating at about 10:15 a.m.