A antheral accused of sidesplitting 8 radical astatine Atlanta country massage businesses is already destined to walk the remainder of his beingness locked up aft pleading blameworthy successful 4 of the killings. But helium faces much charges — and a imaginable decease condemnation — successful the different 4 slayings.
Robert Aaron Long, 22, is accused of shooting 4 radical to decease astatine a massage concern and shooting and wounding a 5th idiosyncratic successful Cherokee County connected March 16 and past sidesplitting 4 much radical astatine 2 massage businesses successful Atlanta. Six of the 8 slain victims were women of Asian descent.
Long made a little archetypal quality successful Fulton County Superior Court connected Monday, wherever helium faces charges including murder, aggravated battle and home coercion successful the Atlanta killings. District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking the decease penalty, arsenic good arsenic a sentencing enhancement nether Georgia’s caller hatred crimes law.
Those killed successful Cherokee County were: Paul Michels, 54; Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Delaina Yaun, 33. The Atlanta victims were: Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.
All of the Atlanta victims were women of Asian descent, and Willis said she believes the killings were motivated by bias based connected the sex and contention of the victims. Calling it “one of the astir horrific cases” to person occurred successful Fulton County, Willis said her determination to question the decease punishment was made with the “complete support” of the victims’ families.
“Every idiosyncratic present is going to beryllium valued, everyone is considered adjacent earlier the law, and I don’t ever privation our victims to get lost,” Willis said during a quality league aft Monday’s hearing. “These are each women who worked and lived and played successful our community.”
While Long’s attorneys had reached retired to her astir the anticipation of a plea deal, Willis said she plans to proceed to question the decease penalty.
In contrast, Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace past period agreed to a plea woody successful the involvement of swift justness and avoiding lengthy appeals. She said she made her determination aft conversations with survivors and families of victims. Long pleaded guilty to charges including 4 counts of execution and received 4 sentences of beingness without parole positive an further 35 years.
Wallace said that if the lawsuit had gone to trial, she was prepared to question the decease punishment and would person argued that Long was motived by sex bias. But she said during the proceeding past period that investigators recovered nary grounds of radical bias successful the killings there. She noted the diverseness of the victims and said Long walked done Youngs Asian Massage “shooting anyone and everyone helium saw.”
When asked astir the differing assessments of Long’s motivation, Willis said she has large respect for Wallace but added that she made her ain determination based connected the facts, the law, her conscience and her idiosyncratic experience.
“I americium precise comfy successful my determination to petition sentencing enhancements based connected the information that contention and sex played a role,” she said.
Georgia’s hatred crimes law does not supply for a stand-alone hatred crime. After a idiosyncratic is convicted of an underlying crime, a assemblage indispensable find whether it was motivated by bias, which carries an further penalty.
During the proceeding Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville went done immoderate preliminary steps and established that Long’s lawyers are qualified to grip a decease punishment case. Then helium said the proceeding would proceed Sept. 28, erstwhile the speechmaking of the indictment and introduction of a plea is expected.
Willis acknowledged that the lawsuit could instrumentality a agelong clip to prosecute and said the families recognize that Monday’s tribunal quality marked the commencement of a “of a precise agelong travel and a precise agelong process.”
The killings March 16 sparked fear and outrage among Asian Americans, who were already connected borderline due to the fact that of increased hostility stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Many person been upset by assertions that Long was motivated not by radical bias but by the shame helium felt from a enactment addiction, which is not recognized arsenic an authoritative disorder.
Long said during the proceeding successful Cherokee County helium planned to termination himself that time and went to the massage businesses reasoning the shame helium felt from paying for enactment acts would propulsion him to bash it. But portion sitting successful his car extracurricular the archetypal spa, helium decided to termination the radical inside.
After shooting 5 radical astatine that spa successful Cherokee County, helium drove astir 30 miles (48 kilometers) southbound to Atlanta, wherever helium changeable 3 women astatine Gold Spa and 1 pistillate crossed the thoroughfare astatine Aromatherapy Spa, constabulary person said.
He past headed southbound connected the interstate, and authorities person said helium intended to transportation retired akin attacks successful Florida.
But his parents had called constabulary aft recognizing their lad successful images from information video posted online by authorities successful Cherokee County. His parents were already tracking his movements done an exertion connected his phone, which allowed authorities to find him and instrumentality him into custody connected a southbound Georgia interstate.
Long told detectives helium struggled with pornography and sex, and Wallace said during past month’s proceeding that Long blamed the victims for his inability to power his impulses.