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April 20, 2014

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Man convicted of killing 4 women from escort site

Updated Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 | 8:54 a.m.

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A jury Friday convicted a Detroit-area man of killing four women who went to his home after connecting through online escort ads.

Police said James Brown killed the women in pairs, just days apart, at his Sterling Heights home in December 2011. The bodies were stuffed in car trunks and left miles away in a Detroit neighborhood. Two were burned beyond recognition.

Brown, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder after a three-week trial in Macomb County court. He faces life in prison with no chance for parole.

"He did it because he enjoyed it. He did it because he got some thrill out of it," assistant prosecutor Therese Tobin said in her closing remarks.

Authorities found Brown's DNA under the nails of two victims and tiny drops of blood from another were on a pillow and a door in his basement. He made incriminating statements to police about getting rid of the bodies, although he denied any role in their deaths.

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

Doctors who performed autopsies believe the women were asphyxiated by Brown, who is 6 feet, 10 inches tall and weighs 340 pounds, but they couldn't declare an exact cause of death. Defense attorney Jeff Cojocar repeatedly made that point to the jury.

"Nobody knows" what happened in the basement, Cojocar said.

The women were Renisha Landers, Demesha Hunt, Natasha Curtis and Vernithea McCrary, all in their 20s.