Preliminary exam starts for man accused of killing 4 women associated with Backpage.com

James Brown, 24, accused of asphyxiating 4 women, locking bodies in trunks

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:37:37 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 09 2013 06:40:20 PM EST
James Brown
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -

James Brown James Brown, 24, was in a Sterling Heights court on Wednesday.

He walked into court still in handcuffs, accused of killing four women associated with the website Backpage.com.

Brown kept his head down for most of the hearing but, was seen taking notes when testimony started.

He is accused of murdering and than locking the bodies of four woman in the trunks of their own cars, before abandoning the cars in Detroit.

The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office charged Brown in November with the murders of Demesha Hunt, Renesha Landers, Natasha Curtis, and Vernithea McCrary.

Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Francisco Diaz was the first witness to take the stand. He performed the autopsy on Landers and Hunt.

Diaz testified that no evidence of trauma was found on the victims during the autopsy and ruled the official cause of death as asphyxiation.

Read: Man charged with 'Backpage' murders.

Watching the testimony unfold, the families of the victims filled the courtroom. Demesha's aunt, Rita Hunt, told Local 4 that being in the same room with as Brown was not easy.

Hunt said no amount of evidence will justify the death of her niece. "I really wanted to know what would possessed him to take the lives of these young ladies like that. What was going through his head," she said.

Police and prosecutors allege that Brown initially made contact with the women through the internet website www.backpage.com.

The Case:

At least three of the four women promoted themselves as escorts-for-hire on the site.

Hunt and Landers drove to Brown’s home in the City of Sterling Heights in December 11th. Police said their bodies were found the next day in the trunk of a car on Promenade in Detroit.

Curtis and McCrary drove to Brown’s home on Dec. 24th. The following day, Detroit police were called to a burning car on Lannette.

Curtis and McCrary were found dead in that car’s trunk. Dr. Carl Schmidt also testified that the bodies were burned beyond recognition.

He believes the woman were victims of asphyxiation before the fire.

Renisha Landers and Demesha Hunt

~Two of the victims, Renisha Landers and Demesha Hunt~

"Just looking at him makes my skin crawl, I mean my niece is no longer with us," said Hunt.

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