The gunman who has been accused of killing eight people during a rampage at multiple Atlanta-area spas was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to a host of charges on Tuesday morning.
Robert Long, 21, was slapped with four life sentences following his acceptance of a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to four of the eight murders before a Cherokee County judge in a bid to avoid the death penalty, according to the Associated Press. Long was charged with four counts of malice murder, 11 counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and first-degree criminal damage to property. He also faces domestic terrorism charges with a hate crime enhancement.
In March, Long was jailed after authorities said he opened fire at different salons, killing eight people. He's suspected of killing at least four individuals and injuring another at Young's Asian Massage Parlor before allegedly killing four more at the Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa.
FILE - This March 16, 2021 booking photo provided by the Crisp County, Ga., Sheriff's Office shows Robert Aaron Long, 22, accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. Long was indicted Tuesday, May 11, 2021, on murder charges, and a prosecutor filed notice that she'll also seek hate crime charges and the death penalty. (Crisp County Sheriff's Office via AP, File) AP
Long has pleaded guilty only to the offenses committed in Cherokee County, which include the killing of 49-year-old Xiaojie "Emily" Tan, 44-year-old Daoyou Feng, 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, and 54-year-old Paul Michels at Young's Asian Massage. Authorities say he also wounded a fifth person.
Initially, authorities thought the shootings were hate offenses against the Asian American community, though investigators quickly suggested Long was likely motivated by a "sex addiction" and wanted to "eliminate temptation," rather than attacking the victims because of their race. District Attorney Shannon Wallace echoed those claims in court on Tuesday.
“All of the evidence that was gathered with regard to Cherokee County, your honor, came to the same conclusion, that this crime was not motivated by a bias or hate against Asian Americans," Wallace said.
“This was not any kind of hate crime,” she added.
The district attorney said gender bias might have been present, though those facts would not lead to a more lengthy sentence for Long.
Wallace said she would have sought the death penalty if Long did not plead guilty, though he has not yet skirted an execution.
Next month, the 21-year-old is scheduled to appear before a judge in Fulton County to answer for alleged crimes at the Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa. There, District Attorney Fani Willis has vowed to follow through with hate crime charges and seek the death penalty.
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Original Author: Jake Dima