STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A man who authorities say killed four women in December 2011, locked their bodies in car trunks and abandoned them in Detroit has been charged with murder, prosecutors announced Monday.
James Brown, 24, of Sterling Heights in suburban Detroit, faces four counts of murder and other charges in the deaths, the Macomb County prosecutor's office said in a statement. He was due in court Monday morning in Sterling Heights for an arraignment on four counts of first-degree murder.
Ahead of the hearing, Brown's lawyer Jeffrey Cojocar said that from his review of evidence so far it appears the case is circumstantial. Cojocar suggested, however, that Brown may have incriminated himself during a videotaped interview with Detroit police earlier this year. He said he anticipates a long trial.
"He has maintained his innocence 100 percent with regard to the homicides," said Cojocar, who plans to fight to suppress statements to Detroit police.
The bodies of 24-year-old Demesha Hunt and 23-year-old Renisha Landers were found Dec. 19 in a car trunk in Detroit. The bodies of Natasha Curtis and Vernithea McCrary were found Christmas Day in the trunk of a burning car. Three of the women had placed adult dating service ads on Backpage.com.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Brown faces a mandatory term of life in prison without parole.
According to investigators, Brown initially made contact with the women through Backpage.com, meeting with them at his home the day before the bodies were found. Records show final calls made from the victims' mobile phones were transmitted through a cell tower near Brown's house, the prosecutor's office said.
Brown previously faced charges including disinterment and mutilation of a dead body and arson, but not murder.
Before Monday's hearing, Macomb County prosecutors met privately with victims' relatives in a small room at the courthouse.
"The parents and relatives of these women have suffered so greatly," said Macomb Prosecutor Eric Smith. "We will work to bring closure to these grieving families."