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Atlanta Suspect to Face Death Penalty, Hate Crime Charges

Grand jury returns indictment against Robert Aaron Long in four of the spa shootings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 11, 2021 5:02 PM CDT

(Newser) – A man accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage businesses was indicted Tuesday on murder charges, and a prosecutor filed notice that she'll also seek hate crime charges and the death penalty. A Fulton County grand jury indicted Robert Aaron Long, 22, in the March 16 slayings of Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63. The indictment only covers those four killings that happened at two spas in Atlanta, and not the attack in Cherokee County in which Xiaojie "Emily" Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54, were killed. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis also filed notice that she intends to seek hate crime charges and the death penalty against Long, who is white, the AP reports. The hate crime charges are based on the actual or perceived race, national origin, sex and gender of the four women killed, the notice says.

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Georgia's new hate crimes law does not provide for a stand-alone hate crime. After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine whether it's a hate crime, which carries an additional penalty. The indictment charges Long with four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of domestic terrorism, according to online records. The notice of intent to seek hate crime charges says one woman was targeted based on her actual or perceived sex and gender. It will be up to a separate grand jury in Cherokee County to decide on charges in the shooting at a spa near suburban Woodstock in which four were killed and one person was wounded. The killings are eligible for the death penalty because each was committed while Long was in the act of committing another capital offense, namely the killings of the victims, the filing says. (Demonstrators around the country took to the streets after the slayings.)

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