The penalty phase of convicted serial killer Joseph Naso's Marin County Superior Court trial ended this morning with a testy exchange between Naso and Judge Andrew Sweet after the jury left for a lunch break.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, but Naso, who is representing himself, told Sweet he intends to call two female witnesses on Tuesday after the prosecution finishes its case.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case on Friday.
Sweet told Naso he has to have his witnesses available on Friday because closing arguments had already been set for Monday.
"I'm extremely reluctant to have any delays in this case," Sweet said.
That prompted Naso to accuse the judge of preventing him from defending himself.
"Why am I not allowed to defend myself? You're pushing me and squeezing me. My witnesses can't come on Friday," Naso said.
Sweet replied, "I may not let you call them.”
He told Naso it is unusual for a convicted defendant to call witnesses during the penalty phase of a trial who had already testified during the main trial that the defendant had harmed them.
Naso was convicted last month of the first-degree strangulation murders of four prostitutes between 1977 and 1994 in Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties.
The victims were Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland; 22-year-old East Bay resident Carmen Colon; and Yuba County residents Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracy Tafoya, 31.
Sweet asked Naso whether he was calling the two witnesses to mitigate the prosecution's testimony against him or simply to confront the witnesses.
"I'm concerned about the purpose of you calling them in this case," the judge said.
Naso said the purpose was mitigation.
"Why are you in a hurry to get rid of me?" Naso asked.
Sweet said he would consider a motion to continue the trial to accommodate Naso's two witnesses if good cause is shown.
Naso pointed his finger at the judge as he said, "I changed my mind this weekend. I'm going to have mitigation witnesses."
"Don't point at me," Sweet replied before ending the morning session.
Prosecutors Rosemary Slote and Dori Ahana are presenting evidence they claim links Naso to the murder of Sharieea Patton, 56, of San Francisco, whose body was found along a San Francisco Bay shoreline in Tiburon on Jan. 14, 1981.