We’ve all seen an episode of our favorite television crime drama during which the accused criminal becomes frustrated with his attorney and decides to represent himself in court. Perhaps to add to the theatrics of the small screen, sometimes the villain reveals a surprising grasp of the law and courtroom procedures. However, the reality is that choosing to act as your own counsel is usually not a recommended move. This is not stopping Joseph Naso from taking on his own case, even if it could result in his death.
Naso is accused of murdering four women in Northern California, all of whom had first and last names that started with the same letter. He is believed to have strangled the women and then dumped their bodies in rural areas. And, authorities are not discounting the possibility that he may be the same man who is responsible for a series of cold cases in New York dating back to the 1970s, in which three girls who also had the same letter for both names were murdered.
It appears that Naso’s refusal to accept assigned counsel is based in his distrust of the government. He has long fought with local authorities over the care of his disabled son, who was determined by a mental health agency in Nevada to be better off in a group home. At the federal level, he has engaged in an ongoing battle with the Social Security Administration over his son’s benefits. He also was found with copies of a newspaper published by an anti-government militia.
If Naso is found guilty of the murders, he faces the death penalty. But, with his obvious distrust of any representative of the government, it appears he will not be convinced to accept the help of counsel. We will see how Naso plans to defend himself at a plea hearing scheduled for Friday.