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Originally published Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 12:58 PM

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Death penalty sought in N. Calif. serial slayings

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they plan to seek the death penalty against a man suspected of killing four prostitutes in rural Northern California.

The Associated Press

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SAN RAFAEL, Calif. —

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they plan to seek the death penalty against a man suspected of killing four prostitutes in rural Northern California.

The announcement was made in Marin County Superior Court as Joseph Naso, 78, re-entered not-guilty pleas to four counts of murder.

The former Reno photographer is accused of killing Roxene Roggasch in 1977, Carmen Colon in 1978, Pamela Parsons in 1993 and Tracy Tafoya in 1994. All four were found strangled in rural areas of Northern California.

Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana would not elaborate on the decision to pursue the death penalty. She noted that the case involved multiple victims, a special circumstance that made Naso eligible for the punishment.

Prosecutors presented dozens of Naso's photographs - including two showing alleged victims - where the women appear unconscious or dead. Prosecutors claim Naso drugged his victims before killing them, photographing their bodies and leaving them in rural areas.

Naso also kept a safe deposit box with newspaper clippings of the slayings, and investigators found journals and calendars that noted Naso's meetings with Tafoya and Parsons around the time of their deaths in Yuba County.

Naso is acting as his own attorney. He has argued that he never used drugs on his photography subjects.

He said that he had a rapport with women that made them comfortable disrobing for the camera.

He also argued that his lists and calendars were merely notes about models, and that most of the women seen in his pictures "are alive and well."

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