Atlanta ‘Spa Shooter’ Takes Plea Deal to Spare His Life, Could Still Get Death Penalty After Killing Asians for ‘Making a sport of’ Sex

Robert Long, a Georgia man who confessed to killing numerous Asian people earlier this year, could still get the death penalty despite taking a plea deal to spare his life.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, 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 the killings that happened in Cherokee County.

Long’s case in Fulton County is still pending. Fulton County District Attorney Fanney Willis said she still intends to seek death as punishment for the four remaining people who were killed in Atlanta.

On Wednesday, Long was transferred from Cherokee County to Fulton County jail, where faces charges from the other murders. Willis previously said she thinks the case could last up to 36 months since her office will be seeking death for Long, 11 Alive reports.

“I don’t see it as a long shot, but getting a death sentence anywhere in metro Atlanta is going to be tough,” Robert James, a former DeKalb County District Attorney, told the outlet.

“All you need is one individual that decides that this person doesn’t need to die. When it comes time for them to say, ‘yes I vote to execute you, to take your life,’ that is a tall task. A heavy burden.”

Defendant Robert Aaron Long stands before Judge Ellen McElyea during a plea hearing in Superior Court of Cherokee County in Canton, Ga., Tuesday, July 27, 2021. Long, accused of killing eight people, most of them women of Asian descent, at Atlanta-area massage businesses pleaded guilty to four of the murders. He was handed four sentences of life without parole. (Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

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 of the Case

Long pleaded guilty to the Cherokee County murders of:

  •  Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49
  • Daoyou Feng, 44
  • Delaina Yaun, 33
  • Paul Michels, 54

Futon County 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.”

James added that Long’s defense lawyers could say that Long’s Cherokee County life sentence means he will never leave prison, which could possibly convince a Fulton County jury to decline a death penalty sentence.

“They’re going to say he has already been punished,” James said. “He is never going to come home again. He is never going to see the light of day again. It is overkill, no pun intended, but it is overkill to put this man to death.”

Willis said she’s convinced there is enough to convict Long of both murder and hate crimes, AJC reports. Long previously 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.

“I spent 10 hours with the victims’ families. I’m completely confident they support me in this,” Willis told AJC. “I think these victims deserve a thorough examination of what happened and why it happened.”

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Robert Long via Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool]