Joseph Naso Found Guilty Of Murdering Four Women
A Marin County jury has found Joseph Naso guilty of killing four women in the Bay Area and Yuba County between 1977 and 1994.
After about five and a half hours of deliberations, the jury convicted Naso of four counts of first-degree murder, as well as the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.
Naso, 79, did not visibly react when the verdict was read at about 2:20 p.m.
He represented himself in the trial, which began in mid-June, with the help of an advisory counsel.
The jury convicted him of killing Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland, and Carmen Colon, a 22-year-old East Bay resident.
Roggasch was found dead off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard west of Fairfax on Jan. 11, 1977.
Colon's body was found near Carquinez Scenic Drive in Port Costa in Contra Costa County on Aug. 15, 1978.
Naso, a former commercial photographer, was also found guilty of the murders of Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31, whose bodies were found in Yuba County in September 1993 and August 1994, respectively.
All four women are believed to have worked as prostitutes.
Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote told jurors in her closing argument that Naso picked the women up in his car, then later strangled them and disposed of their bodies.
Naso's DNA was found in semen collected from the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing when her body was found, prosecutors said.
Evidence against him included a handwritten list that prosecutors allege refers to at least seven women, including the four victims, and contains some of the locations where their bodies were found.
A separate penalty phase of the trial will begin Sept. 4 to determine whether Naso will face capital punishment.
Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana said Tuesday that prosecutors are seeking to present evidence during the penalty phase about a fifth murder for which Naso hasn't been charged.
She would not say which murder, but during the trial prosecutor Rosemary Slote said one of the entries on Naso's handwritten list, "girl in Woodland, Nevada County," could refer to a woman named Renee Shapiro.
Shapiro, an avid Bob Dylan fan, changed her name to "Sara Dylan," and was last seen at a Dylan concert in Hawaii in April 1992, according to prosecutors.
A skull found in Nevada County in 1998 is believed to be that of Shapiro, and a passport and driver's license with the name "Sara Dylan" were found in Naso's safe deposit box at a bank in Reno, prosecutors said.
During the trial, the prosecution presented 70 witnesses, and Naso called seven to the stand.
After the jury had left the courtroom Tuesday, Naso addressed Judge Andrew Sweet, saying it seemed to him that the jurors seemed uninterested in the details of the case during the trial.
He said he didn't see them taking a lot of notes and said it appeared to him that they just wanted to "get it over with and go home."
Sweet asked Naso to clarify what he wanted from the court.
Naso replied, "I'm making a motion to call a mistrial."
Sweet immediately denied the motion, saying he did not see any evidence of juror misconduct, and called Naso's concerns "inventive paranoia about what happened in the jury room."
He told Naso that he could make another motion for a mistrial in writing in the future if he desired.
Dublin Grass Fire Contained, Caused By Smoke Grenade During Military Training
Firefighters contained a grass fire that burned about 170 acres near the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin Tuesday afternoon, a U.S. Army spokeswoman said.
The fire burned in the southeastern area of the U.S. Army Reserve Parks Reserve Forces Training Area began around 1:40 p.m. and was contained by 4:30 p.m., spokeswoman Susan Clizbe said.
A smoke grenade used during an outdoor military training sparked the fire, she said.
The area is north of Interstate Highway 580 and east of Interstate Highway 680.
No structures were affected and no injuries had been reported, she said.
The Camp Parks Fire Department responded to the fire, along with the Alameda County Fire Department and Cal Fire, she said.
Driving On New Bay Bridge Will Be A Better Experience
In addition to being safer during earthquakes, drivers will have a better overall experience when they drive across the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge when it opens in two weeks, a bridge spokesman said Tuesday.
Andrew Gordon said, "It will be a very different experience for drivers" because traffic flow will improve, curves will be more subtle and graceful and eastbound drivers will have great views of the Port of Oakland and the East Bay hills.
In fact, Gordon said the views will be so good that bridge officials are warning drivers to keep their eyes on the road and "keep the gawking for their passengers."
That's because the new span will have parallel side-by-side decks, in contrast to the current bridge, which has an eastbound lower deck and a westbound upper deck, Gordon said.
"Driving will feel more wide open," he said.
The new span will have five lanes in each direction, as the current span does, but there also will be two shoulders in each direction, which means that stalls and accidents won't clog the bridge as often as they currently do, Gordon said.
In addition, maintenance work on the bridge can be done without closing lanes, he said.
The main reason transportation officials have been building the new $6.4 billion span is that it will be seismically safer than the existing span, which opened in 1936 and had a deck collapse in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Transportation officials have been planning for a long time to open the new span on Sept. 3 but that opening date was thrown in doubt in March when it was discovered that a significant number of 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck of the bridge failed when they were tightened on a pier east of Yerba Buena Island.
The long-term solution to fixing the broken bolts is to cover them with an exterior saddle and cable system that is encased in concrete but that work isn't expected to be completed until mid-December, Gordon said.
However, last week transportation officials approved a short-term fix that involved inserting large steel plates, known as shims, into each of four bearings, enhancing their ability to safely distribute energy during an earthquake.
That work was completed over the weekend, Gordon said. The entire Bay Bridge will be closed in both directions from 8 p.m. on Aug. 28 to 5 a.m. on Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, to complete additional work that must be completed before the new span can be opened to the driving public.
But Gordon said "none of the work will be challenging" and the work will be much less complicated than when the Bay Bridge was closed for construction work during previous Labor Day weekend closures in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The work over Labor Day weekend primarily will involve paving, striping lanes and erecting barrier rails, Gordon said.
He said most of the work on the new eastern span will be on its eastern side, which is at the Oakland touchdown and the toll plaza, and its western side, which at the Yerba Buena Island transition structure and the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel.
In addition, maintenance work will be performed on the western span, such as replacing lighting fixtures, cleaning and painting cables and repairing finger joints, Gordon said.
Describing the attitude of workers as they're putting the finishing touches on the new span, he said, "There's nervous energy but everyone is confident it will be done."
Danville Police Identify Woman Critically Injured In Suspected DUI Crash
Police have identified a woman who was critically injured when a suspected drunken driver in Danville struck her on Monday night.
Police said 53-year-old Danville resident Diana Gregory was walking near Camino Tassajara and Tassajara Lane at about 9 p.m. when a driver heading east on Camino Tassajara struck her, police said.
Gregory was taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek with life-threatening injuries.
She remained hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.
Police said the driver, 50-year-old Samuel Herrick of Danville, was arrested on suspicion of DUI causing injury and was booked into county jail in Martinez, where he is being held on $50,000 bail.
The victim wasn't carrying any ID at the time of the collision, and police were initially unable to identify her.
Anyone with information about the collision is asked to call Danville police immediately at (925) 314-3700.
City Attorney Vows Lawsuit Against Nevada Over 'Patient Busing'
Allegations that a Nevada state psychiatric hospital improperly sent hundreds of mental health patients to California cities by bus have prompted San Francisco's city attorney Tuesday to vow to sue the state to recover costs to the city for the patients' medical care.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera Tuesday sent a letter to Nevada state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto informing her of his intent to file a lawsuit over the alleged "patient dumping" by the Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas.
Herrera wrote in the letter that his office has found nearly 500 patients were bused from the Nevada hospital to various California cities since April 2008, including 24 to San Francisco.
Of those 24, 20 required emergency medical care within a short time after their arrival, according to the city attorney.
Herrera wrote that San Francisco has spent nearly $500,000 on medical care and housing for those patients, all of whom were homeless and suffering from mental illnesses.
He wrote that the busing practices were "inhumane and unacceptable," noting that they were allegedly transported without escorts, without adequate medication or food and without arrangements for someone to receive them at their destination.
Along with recouping costs to the city, Herrera wrote that he also plans to secure a court injunction barring Nevada officials from continuing to transfer patients into California without prior arrangements for their care.
"It's my hope that our investigation and possible class action will send a strong message to public health facilities nationwide that there is a price to pay for such inhumane treatment in the future," Herrera said in a statement.
After Herrera sent initial inquiries about the case to Nevada state officials in April, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval issued a statement saying "disciplinary actions have been taken and a corrective plan of action was put in place" at the hospital.
The changes would "provide additional oversight to ensure that discharge and transportation policies are followed correctly," Sandoval said.
Charge Dismissed For Man Accused Of Murdering Father In Oakland
A murder charge has been dismissed against a man who was accused of fatally stabbing his 71-year-old father in East Oakland three years ago.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta dismissed the charge against Kristien Tabora, 31, at a brief hearing on Monday after Deputy District Attorney Colleen McMahon said there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute him for the death of Edward Tabora, his father.
Edward Tabora, who had lived in San Francisco, was found stabbed to death at an apartment at 10415 Graffian St. in Oakland at 11:08 a.m. on March 21, 2010.
Kristien Tabora, who police said has a history of mental illness, had been arrested the previous day, March 20, 2010, in connection with a robbery of a store in the 2000 block of Market Street in San Francisco.
San Francisco police said Tabora had a history with their department and apparently stole a pack of cigarettes at knifepoint.
Tabora was armed with two knives when he was arrested for his father's murder, according to a probable cause statement filed by Oakland police.
In March 2010 Oakland police didn't identify Tabora as a suspect or a person of interest in the death of his father but he eventually was charged with murder on Sept. 15, 2010.
The police statement said Simmah Tabora, Edward Tabora's daughter and Kristien Tabora's sister, reported both of them missing to San Francisco police on March 19, 2010.
She told San Francisco police that she hadn't heard from her father in three days and that was unusual because normally they would make contact daily, according to the report.
Edward Tabora was found dead two days after the missing persons report was filed when San Francisco police asked Oakland police to conduct a security check at the Graffian Street apartment.
The criminal complaint that was filed against Kristien Tabora said it is believed that his father died sometime between March 15, 2010, and March 19, 2010, but it didn't list a specific date.
According to the probable cause statement, Oakland police investigators learned that Edward and Kristien Tabora were temporarily living together at the Graffian Street location.
Investigators also learned that Kristien Tabora "had a history of mental illness as well as documented physical abuse reports where he was accused of assaulting his father," the statement said.
In an incident in October 2009, Tabora was shot by San Francisco police officers while attempting to slash his own throat with a knife, according to the statement.
Interviews with witnesses and family members eventually helped police develop enough evidence to charge Kristien Tabora with murdering his father, the statement said.
The criminal complaint against Tabora accused him of murder, using a knife to kill his father and of having a prior felony conviction in 2001 for having a concealed firearm in a vehicle in San Francisco.
Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick and Tabora's attorney, Alameda County Assistant Public Defender Graciela Estrada, couldn't be reached for comment on Tabora's case.
CCSF Submits Request For Review Of Decision To Revoke Accreditation
City College of San Francisco officials on Monday submitted a formal request for review of a regional panel's decision to revoke the school's accreditation, but the request made no mention of recent criticism of the accreditors by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced last month that City College's accreditation would end in July 2014 unless changes are made to the school's governance structure and finances.
However, last week the Department of Education issued a letter finding fault with the ACCJC's accrediting process for City College, citing vague instructions for compliance, a lack of faculty members on evaluation teams and a possible conflict of interest between the commission's president and her husband, who was on an evaluation team.
Yet City College special trustee Robert Agrella said Tuesday that he decided not to include the federal criticism of the ACCJC in the school's request for review because he did not want City College to take an adversarial role against the commission.
"By doing that we would be attacking the commission," Agrella said. "That's a call I made and we're sticking with it."
Agrella, who was appointed last month by California Community Colleges chancellor Brice Harris to oversee City College's fight to maintain accreditation, expanded on his decision in an open letter posted on the school's website on Monday.
Agrella wrote, "I strongly believe that the best path to maintaining CCSF's accreditation is to follow the Commission's rules, regulations, and directions and to continue to show substantial progress toward meeting the eligibility requirements and standards."
He wrote, "If our review document joins the attack on the Commission, I believe that the review and appeals process will be unsuccessful. If this is the case, I also believe our timeframe for meeting the standards may be significantly shortened."
Agrella said Tuesday that rather than have their timeframe shortened, his hope is that the 85,000-student school will be able to show enough progress that the commission could extend its accreditation deadline past its current date of July 31, 2014.
"I wouldn't have taken this on if I didn't truly think we would maintain our accreditation," he said.
City College's faculty union last week called on the ACCJC to reverse its decision to revoke the school's accreditation in light of the Department of Education letter, but Agrella said that was highly unlikely.
Agrella, who spoke to reporters Tuesday at a panel convened in San Francisco by the group New America Media, said City College is continuing to address the commission's recommendations during the review process.
If the decision to revoke accreditation is upheld, the school plans to appeal.
Agrella said changes being made include redefining the roles of department chairs and deans and making sure the school maintains financial stability by placing at least 5 percent of its general fund in reserves.
"We want to put the pedal to the metal and work as hard as we possibly can," he said.
District Attorney's Neighborhood Courts Expanding To Evening Hours
San Francisco's district attorney announced Tuesday that his neighborhood courts initiative is expanding to offer hearings during the evening hours.
District Attorney George Gascon launched the neighborhood courts initiative two years ago to seek restorative rather than punitive solutions to certain low-level, nonviolent crimes in the city.
There are 10 neighborhood courts across the city that heard more than 700 cases in 2012, according to the district attorney's office.
The cases cost an average of about $850 to resolve, compared to more than $1,500 in the criminal justice system, and often take only a couple weeks to be heard, rather than several months in a regular court, according to the district attorney's office.
In the neighborhood courts, overseen by prosecutors, a panel of trained volunteer adjudicators handle cases like vandalism, disorderly conduct or minor thefts, with resolutions often involving agreements for community service or work with the victim.
The evening hours will start in the Southern District, with the possibility of expanding to other neighborhoods if there is a demand there as well, district attorney's office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said.
The monthly night courts will begin from 6-8 p.m. this Thursday at the Eucharist church located at 285 Main St.
Men Featured In Taiwanese Film Start Motorcycle Trip With Americans From San Jose To Los Angeles
Nine men from Taiwan men ranging in age from 76 to 89 who once drove 730 miles in 13 days caught motorcycle rides Tuesday with American drivers in San Jose to start a three-day highway trip to Los Angeles.
The men, who starred in the award-winning documentary "Go Grandriders," hitched rides with members of the BMW Club of Northern California after a ceremonial send off attended by about 100 people outside the County Government Center in San Jose.
Hung-Tao Chang, 76, of Taiwan, who appeared in the movie, got on one of the BMW cycles outside the building on West Hedding Street in place of his wife, Ying-Mei, 78, the female of the Grandriders group who was unable to make the trip.
"I am very excited, it's a wonderful occasion," said Chang, adding that thanks to the box office success of "Go Grandriders" in Taiwan, "I'm famous now. I have a lot fans."
The Grandriders are the rage in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where the film, released this year, became the most popular documentary ever produced in Taiwan, said Deborah Yang, Santa Clara-based spokeswoman for CNEX Foundation Limited, of Taiwan, that is promoting the movie.
The men were among the 17 original Grandriders -- now mostly well into their 80s and the eldest 95 and confined to a wheelchair -- shown in the film, Yang said.
The movie chronicles their 730-mile ride in motor scooters around Taiwan over 13 days in 2007, Yang said.
They did it despite their ages to show it is "never too late to pursue one's dreams," Yang said.
The road trip will take three days, with stops and hotel stays in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and ending at the University of California, Los Angeles, according to Ed Perry, a former Santa Clara County assistant sheriff who is helping spearhead the journey.
Perry, 57, whose wife is from Taiwan, watched the movie earlier this year and heard that the Grandriders' sponsor, the Hondao Senior Citizens Foundation, wanted to send the seniors on a group ride in California.
He convinced the BMW organization and its president Z. Ortiz, to provide the motorcycles and drivers for them, he said.
The riders will spend most of the drive headed south on state Highway 1 down the coast of California and then switch back to 101 on the way to Los Angeles, Perry said.
The Taiwanese men could not qualify for driver's licenses in California and so each was assigned a member of the BMW club to drive them during the trip, Yang said.
At noon, with the Grandriders in place behind the American drivers astride the BMW cycles, they and several volunteers riding solo rumbled down Hedding to First Street on the way to U.S. Highway 101.
On Aug. 3, "Go Grandriders" won the best documentary award at the 36th Asian American International Film Festival in New York, according to focustaiwan.tw.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning, with a slight chance of drizzle.
Highs are likely to be in the 50s to upper 60s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph in the afternoon.
Partly cloudy skies are expected this evening with patchy fog after midnight.
Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.
Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Thursday morning, becoming sunny later in the day.
Highs are expected to be in the 50s to upper 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.
Check out some of our most popular blogs:
We Built a Stronger SF Economy on Smart Government Investments
The BART That Could Have Been
Run For Your Life! (For Fun)
Love Muni, Hate Muni or Somewhere in Between? Let the SFMTA Know!