Robert Aaron Long, a Georgia man who opened fire and killed numerous Asian people last year at three different spas, has taken a plea deal in an attempt to remove the death penalty as punishment.
Long pleaded guilty Tuesday morning during a hearing at the Superior Court of Cherokee County in Canton, to the murders of four people. Although a total of eight people died when Long reigned terror over Atlanta-area spas in March, part of the plea deal entailed pleading guilty to four of the killings.
“The Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace worked with us to negotiate this case to achieve today’s result bringing finality in Cherokee County,” defense lawyer Zachary Smith said, according to AJC. “It is our hope that the Fulton County District Attorney follows D.A. Wallace’s example and agrees to a similar resolution in that county.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Long, who is from Woodstock, told police he had previously visited some or all of the massage parlors he targeted. Long claimed he had a sex addiction and denied the killings were racially motivated.
“I wanted to stop the places and basically punish the people that I could,” Long told a judge earlier this week.
Long also said he was “embarrassed and ashamed” when his roommate overheard him watching pornography, which sparked the gruesome killings. Long had apparently been to sexual addiction counseling before and didn’t want others to know he was watching porn.
“It never felt like I had a lot of control over those urges and it became obsessive to the point it occupied a lot of thought space,” Long told the judge.
“It’s taking something I believe to be meant for a monogamous relationship, between a man and a woman, and making sport of it without any relationship efforts in it….and essentially taking sex out of the context I believe to be only correct in a marriage relationship.”
Previous Video Coverage on the Case
Long pleaded guilty to the murders of:
- Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49
- Daoyou Feng, 44
- Delaina Yaun, 33
- Paul Michels, 54
Other victims include:
- Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 (the only victim to survive the attack)
- Hyun Grant, 51
- Soon Chung Park, 74
- Suncha Kim, 69
- Yong Ae Yue, 63
Long previously said he pulled the trigger and shot Michels first, at the Youngs Asian Massage in Woodstock. Afterward, the rest of the killings were a blur, he said. Long made his way to two other Atlanta-area spas, where he killed three women at the Gold Spa on Piedmont Avenue in Fulton County, and another woman at Aromatherapy Spa, just across the street.
“I don’t recall thinking much after I pulled the trigger first,” Long said. “My mind felt like it was blank.”
Officers ultimately arrested Long in Crisp County, about 150 miles from Atlanta.
Six of the deceased victims were of Asian descent. The incident sparked fears and questions about a possible racially motivated hate crime, especially since hate crimes against Asians in the U.S. have increased since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began to have a dramatic impact on daily life.
Regardless, Long insisted that the crimes had nothing to do with the victims being Asian. Instead, he claimed pornography and sex clashed with his strict religious background. Long said he went to the spas to “get serviced” on previous occasions, and had initially planned to kill himself but changed his mind, bought a gun, and carried out the grisly crimes.
The plea deal was granted as a way for the death penalty to be removed in the Cherokee County case. However, Fulton County District Attorney Fanney Willis said she still intends to seek death as punishment. Should the judge not grant the death penalty, Long will still spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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[Feature Photo: Robert Long via Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool]