The man accused of shooting and killing eight people at three Atlanta-area Asian-run spas pleaded guilty Tuesday to four counts of manslaughter in suburban Cherokee County, where he now faces four consecutive life sentences in prison without parole. Has been doing.
But 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long could still face the death penalty if convicted in four more shooting deaths in nearby Fulton County, outside Atlanta, where he faces charges of domestic terrorism in addition to murder. have to do.
Long was arrested on March 16 after eight people were killed in a shooting at three Asian-run massage parlors outside Atlanta. Six of those killed were of Asian descent and two were white. A ninth person was injured.
At the time, the shooting triggered a wave of fear in the Asian American community, which was already grappling with increasing violence against Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic, after the virus first emerged in China in December 2019.
But prosecutors said soon after the arrest that they would not pursue hate crime charges against Long, as their investigation indicated the killings were motivated by sex addiction, not race.
Long filed his plea Tuesday in Cherokee County Court, where he made his first public remarks about the killings. He told the court how he bought a shotgun and a bottle of bourbon and set out to kill himself. He said that he thought he would induce himself to do so by going to a massage parlor and paying for sex, which he saw as sinful.
But she told the court that she decided instead to attack the sex industry.
Long still faces 19 felony counts in Fulton County, including charges of murder, felony, felony assault and domestic terrorism.
Some of the information in this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies.