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A Death Sentence in a Deeply Liberal County

There are few counties in the country as solid liberal as Marin County, California, on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The county voted 74-23 for Obama v. Romney.

Yet even here, there are some crimes and criminals so horrific that a jury will unanimously find death to be the appropriate punishment.  We know from polls that when you focus people on the murders at the upper end of the heinousness scale, support for the death penalty rises even among those otherwise ambivalent.  Gary Klien reports for the Marin Independent Journal:

Calling him "an evil and disturbed man," a Marin County judge sentenced convicted serial killer Joseph Naso to death Friday for the murders of six women over a span of nearly two decades.

Judge Andrew Sweet said the evidence proved that Naso inflicted "abhorrent and repugnant levels of suffering and cruelty" on the victims, and humilitated them even more by meticulously documenting the crimes in his diaries and photographs.

The case is also Exhibit A for search conditions on probationers and parolees.  See United States v. Knights (2001).

The case broke open in 2010, when authorities conducted a routine probation search at Naso's home in Reno. Naso retired there after spending much of his career as a nomadic photographer and property manager in Oakland, San Francisco and rural Northern California.

The probation check revealed piles of incriminating writings and photographs, including a diary that documented a half century of rapes and sex crimes. The search also turned up what authorities describe as a "list of 10" -- a roster, in Naso's handwriting, of 10 unnamed women with geographic locations.

Authorities concluded that the list referred to 10 women Naso killed and the areas where he dumped their bodies. Investigators were able to identity six women on the list, but four others remain unnamed and unaccounted for.

The sentence is probably symbolic.  At 80, Naso will not live long enough to be executed unless a major speed-up happens in the next couple of years.  That is not entirely out of the question.

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