US NEWS Lawyers fight death penalty for man accused of shooting...

Lawyers fight death penalty for man accused of shooting eight people inside Atlanta spas

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Attorneys are fighting against a potential death penalty punishment for the man accused of killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in a deadly shooting spree spanning several different spas and massage parlors in the metro Atlanta area.

Just 21 years old at the time, Robert Long entered Young’s Asian Massage, a business near Acworth, on March 16, 2021. He sat in the parking lot for nearly an hour, drinking scotch he’d purchased at a store nearby, before he entered the parlor, paid for their services and then started shooting.

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Robert Aaron Long is seen during his arraignment in Fulton County Superior Court on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Atlanta. (Elijah Nouvelage/AP)

Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, Delaina Yaun, 33, and Paul Michels, 54, were all killed in the gunfire while a fifth person, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, was injured.

From there, Long drove about 30 miles to the Gold Spa and the nearby Aromatherapy Spa, where he fatally shot Yong Ae Yue, 63, Soon Chung Park, 74, Suncha Kim, 69, and Hyun Jung Grant, 51.

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Long was arrested later the same night and has since been charged with more than a dozen counts in connection with the deadly rampage. He has pleaded not guilty to murder charges and several others in Fulton County, where District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking the death penalty, in addition to a sentencing enhancement under Georgia’s new hate crimes law.

Flowers adorn Gold Spa during a demonstration against violence against women and Asians following Tuesday night's shooting where three women were gunned down on March 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Flowers adorn Gold Spa during a demonstration against violence against women and Asians following Tuesday night’s shooting where three women were gunned down on March 18, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

During a court appearance on Tuesday, his attorneys argued that the death penalty statute violates his constitutional rights and that the capital jury process could be biased against him.

They also argued contended Long’s age should bar the death penalty from consideration.

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“The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment protects Mr. Long from disproportionate and excessive punishment,” defense attorneys Jerilyn Bell and Christian Lamar wrote in a motion filed earlier this month.

FILE - This March 16, 2021, booking photo provided by the Crisp County, Ga., Sheriff's Office shows Robert Aaron Long.
FILE – This March 16, 2021, booking photo provided by the Crisp County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office shows Robert Aaron Long. (AP)

“Mr. Long’s youth at the time of the offense—he was 21 years old—substantially lessens his culpability, and a sentence of death would be disproportionate to his diminishing moral blameworthiness.”

His attorneys have filed dozens of motions on his behalf ahead of the trial, which is set to begin on Oct. 17.

Last year, Long pleaded guilty in Cherokee County to the four murders that occurred at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus an additional 35 years.

With News Wire Services

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