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Mandatory Life Sentence Handed Down To Man Convicted In Backpage Murders

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James Brown (Credit: Macomb County Jail/Booking Photo)

James Brown (Credit: Macomb County Jail/Booking Photo)

MACOMB COUNTY (WWJ) – A “no show” in court.

Twenty-six-year-old James Brown — the Sterling Heights man convicted on four-counts of first degree murder in the so-called “Backpage.com” case, didn’t attend his own sentencing Tuesday in Macomb County Circuit Court.

Judge James Biernat reacted this way:

“I would never think in a million years, that sentencing someone to life is not enough, but it’s almost like, he’s getting a break somehow, the man is nothing but a coward,” said Judge Biernat.

For Denise Higgins –the mother of murder victim Vernithia McCrary — it wasn’t the closure she was looking for.

“I wanted to see his face,” said McCrary, “when he got told what his sentence was – I wanted to see his head drop and his knees buckle – like our daughters were.”

Brown, sentenced to life in prison without parole, was convicted of luring the women through the Backpage website and then killing them.

Wallace Murdock, uncle to murder victim Natasha Curtis, told WWJ’s Jon Hewett he wanted to face the monster responsible for his niece’s death.

“She happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Murdock. “I sincerely believe that, as a matter of fact, she passed away on her birthday, it was her twenty-ninth birthday, December twenty-four, it was Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve … We’re going to miss her, but we know as Christians that we will see her again, one day, in Paradise.”

Brown was charged with killing four women after meeting them through online escort ads.

He told police that he met the women on Backpage.com, which carries personal ads. Police said three of the women had ties to ads for escort services on the website.

The bodies of 24-year-old Demesha Hunt and 23-year-old Renisha Landers were found Dec. 19, 2011 in separate car trunks in Detroit. Then, on Christmas Day 2011, the bodies of two additional women, 29-year-old Natasha Curtis and 28-year-old Vernithea McCrary, were found in the trunk of burning car.

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