Atlanta spa shooter’s death penalty trial delayed to 2023

  • Robert Aaron Long, who pleaded guilty to the Atlanta-area spa shootings of March 2021, will begin his death penalty trial in Fulton County in January 2023.
  • The trial was supposed to start on Oct. 17, but a judge granted a delay at the request of prosecutors in light of a new Supreme Court decision and a new state law on expert testimony.
  • Long, 23, shot eight people to death in Fulton and Cherokee Counties; six of them were women of Asian descent.
  • He was sentenced to life without parole for the four murders that occurred in Cherokee, where he blamed his actions to a “sex addiction.”
  • Fulton prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty partly due to his hate crime enhancements, which are believed to be the first application of the law in Georgia.

Robert Aaron Long, who faces the death penalty for four of the 2021 Atlanta-area spa shootings, will begin his trial in January 2023 instead of Oct. 17, according to reports.

Fulton County Superior Judge Ural Glanville delayed Long’s trial at the request of prosecutors. But attorneys for both sides reportedly agreed on a need for more preparation in light of a new, unspecified Supreme Court decision and a new state law on expert testimony.

Long, 23, shot eight people to death in Fulton and Cherokee Counties in March 2021. Six of them were women of Asian descent: Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

In July 2021, Long pleaded guilty to four of the murders, resulting in four life sentences without parole. He blamed his actions on a “sex addiction,” which relieved him of hate crime charges.

Robert Aaron Long. Image via Crisp County Sheriff’s Office

“The avenues I take to meet those desires, it never felt like I had a lot of control over those urges and I became obsessive to the point where it would occupy a lot of my thought space,” Long said in July 2021. “It’s hurt a lot of the relationships in my life, and I still found myself going back to it even after all the efforts I made to treating it, coping skills with it and I’d still go back to it.”

Last year, Fulton County prosecutors started pursuing the death penalty as well as hate crime charges.

“Unfortunately, a case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants the ultimate penalty,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told reporters in May 2021. “Further, we have filed a notice that we will seek sentence enhancement, pursuant to Georgia’s sentencing enhancement statute, commonly referred to as a hate crime statute, based on the race and gender of the victims.”

This is poised to be the first application of the law in the county and possibly the entire state of Georgia, according to Willis.

 

Featured Image via 11Alive

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