Atlanta-area spa shooter pleads guilty to four killings and gets life in prison, but still could face death penalty

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By Maria Cartaya, Amara Walker, Angela Barajas and Eric Levenson, CNN

The Georgia antheral accused of fatally shooting 8 radical astatine 3 Atlanta-area spas successful March pleaded blameworthy Tuesday to 4 of the killings and was sentenced to beingness successful prison, though helium inactive faces the anticipation of the decease penalty.

Robert Aaron Long agreed successful a Cherokee County courtroom to plead blameworthy to 23 charges successful all, including 4 counts of malice murder, and was sentenced to 4 consecutive beingness sentences without the anticipation of parole, positive 35 years.

The condemnation represents the archetypal portion of a lengthy ineligible way ahead. Long inactive faces an further 19 charges successful adjacent Fulton County, wherever prosecutors volition beryllium pursuing the decease punishment for hatred crimes targeting the sex and contention of the victims.

In tribunal Tuesday, wearing handcuffs tied to his waist, Long stood astatine the lectern and calmly explained however and wherefore helium carried retired the archetypal of his 3 spa shootings.

Feeling hopeless and suicidal owed to what helium described arsenic an addiction to sex, Long purchased a weapon and ammo, drove to a liquor store to bargain alcohol, and past arrived astatine Young’s Asian Massage, wherever helium said helium had antecedently received intersexual services. There, helium sat successful his car for astir an hr drinking and deciding betwixt sidesplitting himself oregon the radical successful the spa, helium said.

He made up his caput and past went wrong and got a “service” successful a backmost room, helium told the court. Afterward, helium went to the bathroom, and erstwhile helium came out, helium started shooting astatine people, helium said. He did not cognize oregon admit immoderate of the victims.

“How agelong was it betwixt the archetypal changeable and the clip that you left, if you recall?” the justice asked.

“It didn’t consciousness similar much than 5 minutes,” Long said.

The comments uncover his ain position astir the killings connected March 16, erstwhile Long opened occurrence astatine Young’s spa, astir 30 miles extracurricular Atlanta successful Cherokee County, and past astatine 2 neighboring spas successful northeast Atlanta. He was arrested respective hours aboriginal astir 150 miles southbound of Atlanta.

Six of the 8 victims were Asian women, and the shooting emphasized the wider emergence successful racism and unit against Asian Americans implicit the past year. In particular, the attacks illuminated the specific misogyny and racism that Asian women face.

The hatred transgression charges against Long successful Fulton County are believed to beryllium the first exertion of the instrumentality successful Georgia.

Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace said she intended to question the decease punishment and hatred transgression charges based connected sex had determination not been a plea deal. She said that their probe did not amusement Long had immoderate bias oregon prejudice against Asians, and truthful prosecutors would not person sought a hatred transgression enhancement based connected race.

Defense lawyer Zachary H. Smith said successful a connection helium hoped prosecutors successful Fulton County would besides hold to a plea woody without the decease penalty.

“It has been Mr. Long’s tendency to judge work for his actions connected March 16 from the clip that helium interviewed with constabulary aft his arrest,” Smith said. “The Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace worked with america to negociate this lawsuit to execute today’s effect bringing finality successful Cherokee County. It is our anticipation that the Fulton County District Attorney follows D.A. Wallace’s illustration and agrees to a akin solution successful that county.”

Long volition beryllium transferred to a Fulton County jailhouse arsenic ordered by a judge. He is scheduled to beryllium arraigned connected August 23.

Shooter blames intersexual addiction

The fatal shooting astatine Young’s Asian Massage adjacent Acworth near 5 radical changeable and 4 dead: Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

After Long’s arrest, helium told authorities the shootings were “not racially motivated,” according to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. He told authorities helium believed helium had a enactment addiction and that helium saw the spas arsenic “a temptation … that helium wanted to eliminate,” Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said then.

In tribunal connected Tuesday, helium explained further wherefore his “sexual struggles” caused specified issues successful his life.

“The avenues I instrumentality to conscionable those desires, it ne'er felt similar I had a batch of power implicit those urges and I became obsessive to the constituent wherever it would inhabit a batch of my thought space,” helium said. “It’s wounded a batch of the relationships successful my life, and I inactive recovered myself going backmost to it adjacent aft each the efforts I made to treating it, coping skills with it, and I’d inactive spell backmost to it.”

Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, the lone subsister of the shooting, became affectional arsenic helium shared with the tribunal successful a raspy, brushed dependable astir however hard the past fewer months person been for him and his 10-year-old daughter. Ortiz was changeable successful the look and a slug remains lodged successful him.

“This has affected my voice. I utilized to sing, and present I won’t beryllium capable to anymore,” helium said.

He said that Long doesn’t merit freedom.

“How galore lives did helium instrumentality away? And helium tried to instrumentality distant excavation too,” helium said.

The woman of Michels, Bonnie, besides shared her symptom and anguish with the court.

“A portion of maine died with him that day. He was my rock,” she said. They had been joined for 24 years.

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