Jury Returns Friday In Deaths Linked To Escort Ads

MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ/AP) – There is no quick verdict in the trial of a Detroit-area man charged with killing four women who met him through online escort ads.

A Macomb County jury is returning to the courthouse Friday after about two hours of deliberations Thursday.

James Brown, 25, is accused of killing four women in pairs, days apart, in the basement of his Sterling Heights home while his mother slept upstairs.

The bodies of 23-year-old Renisha Landers and 24-year-old Demesha Hunt were found in the trunk of a car left in Detroit in December 2011. Six days later, on Christmas Day, the bodies of 29-year-old Natasha Curtis and 28-year-old Vernithea McCrary were found in a burning car in the same neighborhood.

The victims met Brown through Backpage.com, which carries personal ads for people looking for sex.

At previous court hearings, officers have said Brown admitted being with the women but couldn’t explain why they died in his home. He also admitted to driving the bodies to a run-down Detroit neighborhood. Detective Derryck Thomas testified that Brown told him that he fell asleep and found the women lifeless when he woke up.

Dr. Francisco Diaz, an assistant Wayne County medical examiner, testified that the victims died of asphyxiation, a lack of oxygen to the brain. Diaz said it’s possible for someone to be asphyxiated without a struggle, especially if the attacker is larger than the victim. Brown is a large, muscular man who could have killed the women as he sat on them, Diaz said.

Brown is charged with four counts of first degree murder, four counts of disinterment and mutilation of a dead body, one count of arson of real property, and one count of arson of personal property. He faces life in prison if convicted as charged.

Defense attorney Jeff Cojocar has told jurors they can go ahead and convict Brown of arson and disinterment of bodies, saying he’s “not going to play games.”

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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