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Trial nears end in Detroit-area deaths of 4 women

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ED WHITE | February 27, 2014 05:56 PM EST | AP

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MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — A Detroit-area man who met four women through an online escort site killed them in his basement and then stuffed their bodies like "garbage" into car trunks, a prosecutor told jurors Thursday as she urged them to return a guilty verdict at the end of a three-week trial.

James Brown, 25, is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes. He's accused of killing the women in pairs, a week apart, in his Sterling Heights basement in December 2011.

"He did it because he enjoyed it. He did it because he got some thrill out of it," said Macomb County assistant prosecutor Therese Tobin in her closing remarks. "He went on with his life like nothing happened. He opened his presents on Christmas Day."

Jurors deliberated for about two hours before going home. They'll return Friday.

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

He admitted to police that he got rid of the bodies but said he didn't kill the women. Investigators found Brown's DNA under the nails of two, as well as tiny blood samples from a victim on a pillow and a door.

"They came out of that house like they were garbage," Tobin said.

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. "Nobody has a clue."

The victims were Renisha Landers, Demesha Hunt, Natasha Curtis and Vernithea McCrary, all in their 20s. The bodies of Curtis and McCrary were burned beyond recognition in a car that was set on fire in a run-down Detroit neighborhood early on Christmas 2011.

Cojocar said it doesn't make much sense that two women could be killed the previous night while Brown's mother was making holiday meals in the home at the same time.

"She probably would have heard something," he told jurors.

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