Joseph Naso trial wrapping up with closing arguments

Joseph Naso
August 14, 2013 7:53:50 PM PDT
A message by a brother of one of accused serial killer Joseph Naso's alleged victims nearly derailed the serial murder case Wednesday. The judge was afraid the jury had seen the sign.

Naso listened without expression as the prosecution delivered its closing arguments. The 79-year-old is charged with murdering four prostitutes decades ago -- Pamela Parsons, Tracey Tafoya, Roxene Roggasch and Carmen Colon.

At the hearing, Larry Roggasch, Roxene's brother, said he doesn't want the death penalty for Naso.

"That's going to be too good for him; there's too many folks on death row, he's got a bigger cell with Internet access, with media access," Roggasch said. "He's got books and libraries. I want him in mainline prison, life without."

Prosecutor Rosemary Sloate tried methodically to link each of the four victims to Naso by showing jurors a list of the women and mementos including photographs which police found at his home and in a safety deposit box. Sloate also reminded jurors of his DNA, which was found on two of the murdered victims.

But Wednesday morning, Judge Andrew Sweet abruptly stopped the proceedings. He was worried jurors may have seen a sign on a pickup truck in the parking lot. It read in part, "Joseph Naso murdered my sister Roxene Roggasch January 11 1977 ..." It ended with a plea for money. Roggasch said he had erased the sign on Friday but the judge was afraid it may have influenced jurors who saw it, which could result in a mistrial.

Most of the morning session focused on the potentially damaging effects of the sign.

Larry Roggasch, who lives in Yreka, says he is broke and he wrote the sign on his truck's windshield hoping to raise money.

"My intent was to get to the public so I could get help so I could stay here and finish the trial up," he said.

The judge later determined that jurors had not seen the sign and closing arguments resumed.

Prosecutors Wednesday declined to comment on the case, but Naso sent a message to reporters when it was over.

"He says, 'I am looking forward to my opportunity to present my closing arguments' and those will be conducted on Friday at 9:30," deputy public defender Pedro Oliveros said.

Naso has declined to take the stand so far during the trial.

If convicted, Naso could face the death penalty.


Load Comments