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Man receives life sentences in spa killings

Robert Aaron Long walks into court in Cherokee County, Ga., on Tuesday. Associated Press/Photo by Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Man receives life sentences in spa killings

Robert Aaron Long pleaded guilty to four of the eight murders he is accused of committing in March. The shooting spree at Asian massage businesses in the Atlanta area stoked fear of race-based violence among Asian Americans. On Tuesday, a judge gave Long four sentences of life in prison without parole in the killings at Young Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County, Ga.

Is Long charged with a hate crime? Cherokee County prosecutors said they believe shame over having engaged in inappropriate behavior at the businesses motivated Long, 22, to commit the killings—not racial hatred. Long said he planned to kill himself the day of the shootings but decided to kill the people inside the spas instead. Across the county line in Atlanta, prosecutors plan to request a “hate crime sentence enhancement” and the death penalty if a jury convicts Long of murder. He shot and killed four women of Asian descent at two spas in the city.

Dig deeper: Read Charissa Koh’s report in Compassion about problems with sex trafficking in U.S. massage parlors.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kan.



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I have no problem with murderers getting the death penalty. However "hate crime enhancements" are of dubious Constitutionality.

They violate the concept of equal protection under the law by increasing the penalty based on what the prosecutor and jury think the criminal was thinking when committing the crime.

Why should a murderer get more or less punishment based on what others believe they were thinking?

If convicted of the "hate crime" this would be the perfect case to appeal to get "hate crimes" ruled unconstitutional, because what he did on one county was no different that what he did in the other.

Karen for Life

Cherokee County is probably a better run and less busy judicial system than City of Atlanta or Fulton County. drasm22, he killed 4 in Cherokee, 4 in Atlanta. He is being tried in each jurisdictions for the crimes committed in each. Prosecutors in Atlanta are going for different punishments than those in Cherokee.

My Two Cents

This crime was committed in March. This is July, and he already has a sentence? Usually years go by before the case even comes to trial. I’m not complaining, since a right to a speedy trial is a pillar of our Constitution. This is the way it is supposed to work, in my opinion. Why are other cases so long and drawn out? How did this one get expedited?

drasm22My Two Cents

Agreed; however, I have a couple of different questions. 1. Why did he plead guilty to only four of the eight murders? What's the status on the other four? 2. Having received a "life without parole" sentence, how does pursuing a "hate crime" designation change things unless it opens the door to an actual execution? If that's true, then it doesn't make sense to enter a guilty plea at all. So sad. This crime has pornography at its root.