Fulton County judge delays accused spa shooter’s death penalty case
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A Fulton County judge has granted prosecutors’ request to delay the death penalty trial of Robert Aaron Long, the man accused of killing eight people at three metro Atlanta massage spas in March of 2021.
Attorneys for both sides agreed they needed more time to prepare for trial in light of a new, unspecified Supreme Court decision and a new state law regarding expert testimony. Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville set the next status hearing for January 5, 2023.
Families of some of the victims are still waiting for justice for their loved ones lost in the deadly spa shootings that stretched from Cherokee County to Atlanta. According to investigators, Long killed four people at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County and that he then drove to Atlanta and killed four people at two more spas. Six of the eight victims were Asian American women.
Long, who was 21 at the time of the shootings, told police the attack was not racially motivated. He claimed to have a “sex addiction” and told detectives he originally planned to kill himself but decided instead to target those he considered to be the sources of temptation for his sexual sins.
Long entered a guilty plea in Fulton County, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. In Cherokee County, however, prosecutors -- with the blessing of victims’ loved ones who did not wish to endure a lengthy trial -- agreed to a plea deal. A Cherokee County judge sentenced Long to four live sentences without parole plus an additional 35 years.
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Death penalty cases are rare. They’re expensive and they can take a very long time. An attorney for family members of some of the Fulton County victims said they urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty because they want Long to receive the most severe sentence possible for the murders that took place in Atlanta.
Besides the death penalty, Fulton County prosecutors are also seeking sentencing enhancements under Georgia’s new hate crimes law.
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