Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 20, 2024
Atlanta Spa Shooter's Court Appearance Canceled, DA Seeks Death Penalty Amid Hate Crime AllegationsSource: Unsplash/ Tingey Injury Law Firm

Robert Aaron Long, who was convicted for the killings at a Cherokee County spa, had his court appearance in Fulton County nixed. Originally set for today, the court has canceled the hearing for reasons not immediately disclosed. Long is facing the death penalty for additional murders following his spree in 2021 that culminated in Atlanta, where he stands charged with the killing of eight individuals, six of whom were of Asian descent, FOX 5 Atlanta reports.

Serving life sentences handed down from his plea admission in Cherokee County, Long's charges for the four deaths extend to life without parole plus 35 years, as confirmed by 11Alive. In contrast to the Cherokee County authorities, who did not discern any racial motive, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is pursuing the death penalty and a hate crime enhancement, citing the racial and gender specifics of the victims in the Atlanta shootings.

As Long's counsel prepares for the upcoming pre-trial proceedings, the Fulton County court had originally scheduled to hear multiple motions on May 20. Willis, previously against capital punishment, changed her stance following the gravity of this case, an expression of intent to seek the death penalty caught the attention of the press and public alike last year, "Last year, I told the voters of Fulton County that I could not imagine a circumstance where I would seek it. And at that time I did not," Willis said. "Unfortunately, a case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants the ultimate penalty and we shall seek it," as reported by 11Alive.

Long's defense is contending against the severity of the possible sentence, stating no guilt in Fulton County, while already carrying life sentences for earlier convictions. Long's statements to investigators, acknowledged as a self-confessed sex addict, allegedly pointed to his intentions to visit a massage parlor for his addiction prior to an attempted suicide, relayed FOX 5 Atlanta. All the while, the heritage and lives of those slain in both territories underpin a case that is shaping to test Georgia's new hate crime laws, marking it as a centrifuge for future prosecutorial endeavors against the hateful violence that haunts communities, seeking justice beyond mere incarceration.