(CBS/AP) STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - A 24-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of four women whose bodies were found locked in car trunks in Detroit in 2011.
James Brown said little in his court appearance Monday morning. He is due back in court Jan. 9 for a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence for a trial.
Before the hearing, Brown's lawyer, Jeffrey Cojocar, said evidence in the case appears to be circumstantial. Cojocar 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 his client 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, 29, and Vernithea McCrary, 28, 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.
According to investigators, Brown initially made contact with the women through Backpage.com, meeting with them at his home the day before the bodies were found. Records show final calls made from the victims' mobile phones were transmitted through a cell tower near Brown's house, the prosecutor's office said.
According to CBS Detroit, Brown was charged in May with arson, disinterment and mutilation of a dead body in connection with the deaths, but the charges have now been upgraded to murder.
More on Crimesider