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Georgia Man Accused In Atlanta-Area Spa Killings Has Received 4 Life Sentences

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A man charged with killing eight people at spas in metro Atlanta this past March pleaded guilty today to four of the murders. He received multiple life sentences without parole. Most of the shooter's victims were Asian American women. A warning - this story includes details some listeners may find disturbing. From Atlanta, WABE's Johnny Kauffman reports.

JOHNNY KAUFFMAN, BYLINE: In a full courtroom outside Atlanta, Robert Long laid out his thinking before he went on a shooting spree. He said that back in March, he pulled up to Young's Asian Massage. He said he was drinking and said he was considering suicide over the guilt he felt from paying for sex.

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ROBERT LONG: About that time period, while I was sitting in the car is when I began thinking about killing the people inside there.

KAUFFMAN: Long said he went in and paid for a massage that included a sex act. After that, he pulled out the gun he'd bought just hours earlier. Long shot and killed Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Ashley Yaun Gonzalez and Paul Michaels. He said he wanted to punish them for his lack of self-control. Long's murders of the women of Asian descent came during a spike in violence reported against Asian Americans. Wallace said she didn't think she could prove the killings were a hate crime.

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SHANNON WALLACE: Nothing in writings indicate the defendant had any type of plan or any type of issues with taking out any particular race or ethnicity or gender.

KAUFFMAN: Stephanie Cho leads the nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. She says Wallace, the prosecutor, should have done more to point out that racism and sexism drove Long to violence.

STEPHANIE CHO: Regardless of the sentencing, his words were blaming the victims, scapegoating and, again, just upholding his own views that were very messed up and racist about Asian American women.

KAUFFMAN: Long does face hate crime charges for the four other murders in the city of Atlanta.

For NPR News, I'm Johnny Kauffman in Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.