STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (AP) — A 24-year-old man pleaded not guilty Monday to murdering four women whose bodies were found in the trunks of abandoned cars in Detroit last December.
James Brown, who has been locked up on lesser charges relating to the case since May, said little during a brief arraignment hearing in Sterling Heights, the Detroit suburb where he lived. He entered not guilty pleas to four counts of first-degree murder through his attorney, Jeffrey Cojocar, and is due back in court Jan. 9 for a hearing to determine whether there’s enough evidence for a trial.
Cojocar said before the hearing that from the evidence he’s reviewed thus far, the case against Brown is circumstantial. He 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 made 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.