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A man accused of killing eight people at three massage spas in the United States has pleaded guilty to the first four of the shooting deaths.

Robert Aaron Long still faces the death penalty if convicted of four more gun murders in Atlanta, where he faces domestic terrorism charges with an increase in hate crime in addition to murder.

Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.

Police said the attacks began just before 5:00 p.m. on March 16, 2020, when Long killed four people at Youngs Asian Massage.

He also shot and injured a fifth person, they said.

Long then headed south to Atlanta, where he shot three women at Gold Spa before crossing the street for Aromatherapy Spa and fatally shooting another woman.

Prosecutors said the 22-year-old accused signed a plea agreement admitting all charges in Cherokee County, where he was charged with malicious murder, felony murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault.

Prosecutors call for the death penalty

Long is due to appear again next month in Fulton County, where District Attorney Fani Willis has filed a notice stating that she intends to seek an improvement in the hate crime sentence as well as the death penalty. .

Georgia’s new hate crime law does not provide for a stand-alone hate crime.

Prosecutors said the 22-year-old accused signed a plea agreement admitting all charges in Cherokee County.

After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine whether he was motivated by bias, resulting in additional punishment.

The indictment of 19 counts includes charges of murder, felony, aggravated assault and domestic terrorism.

Long told police his attack was not racially motivated, and a spokesperson for the Cherokee sheriff said it did not appear to be a hate crime, sparking widespread skepticism and outrage.

A makeshift memorial with flowers is seen outside a massage business.
Long faces domestic terrorism charges with an increase in hate crimes in addition to murder.(

AP: Mike Stewart

)

“He apparently has a problem, which he considers a sex addiction, and sees these places as something that allows him to go to these places, and it is a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” he said. Sheriff Cherokee’s captain Jay Baker first told reporters. .

Mr Baker has also been criticized for saying Long was having “a very bad day” and was removed from the case.

AP / Reuters

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