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Detroit-area man held for trial in deaths of 4 suspected escorts

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 6:20 p.m.

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — A Detroit-area man charged with killing four suspected escorts has been ordered to stand trial.

James Brown is accused of killing the women in pairs on two days in 2011, and then abandoning the bodies in cars.

Judge Michael Maceroni decided Wednesday that there was enough evidence for a trial after hearing testimony about DNA, phone calls and incriminating statements.

Detroit detective Derryck Thomas testified that Brown admitted he was with the women in his basement when they died. Thomas says Brown told him that he fell asleep and found the women lifeless when he woke up.

Brown says he met the women through Backpage.com, which has personal ads.

The women were found in pairs in car trunks in Detroit, six days apart. Two of the victims were burned beyond recognition in a car that was set on fire. Doctors who performed autopsies believe all four died of asphyxiation.

Jennifer Jones, a Michigan State Police scientist, said Brown's DNA was under the fingernails of Renisha Landers and it can't be ruled out from evidence gathered from the nails of Demesha Hunt.

The blood of a third victim, Natasha Curtis, was discovered on a closet door in Brown's Sterling Heights home and likely was on a pillow, Jones testified.

Dr. Francisco Diaz, an assistant Wayne County medical examiner, performed autopsies on Landers and Hunt. He found no signs that would suggest a physical struggle such as broken nails or contusions.

He said someone could be asphyxiated without a struggle, especially if the attacker is larger. Brown is muscular, more than 6 feet tall and weighs more than 200 pounds.

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