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Massage parlour killer pleads guilty, may face death penalty

The man charged with eight murders in a string of massage parlour shootings will serve multiple life sentences without parole, but more charges may still lead to the death penalty.

Robert Aaron Long was last week sentenced after pleading guilty to four of the March killings, The New York Times has reported.

The Atlanta-area massage parlour murders seemingly targeted Asian sex workers.

Appearing in court on Tuesday, Long spoke of having wanted to “punish” the victims for his obsessions with pornography and paying sex workers.

He has been handed four consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole plus 35 years in prison.

Long, 21, is also facing four other murder charges in nearby Fulton County, where the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty.

District attorney Fani T. Willis is seeking greater penalties for the murders as hate crimes, given that six of the eight victims were Asian women – a development that would have no practical consequence for Long’s jail term but would be significant in acknowledging a racist motivation.

Asked in court by Judge Ellen McElyea to explain his hatred toward sex workers, Long said that he believed sex is “meant for a monogamous relationship between a man and woman” in “a marriage relationship”.

Prosecutor Shannon Wallace said that the families of Long’s victims would rather see him serve life without parole than go through a lengthy death penalty trial, preferring “that this defendant spent every remaining day of his life in prison, faced with the memories of his own monstrosity”.

The murders occurred in the context of increasing anti-Asian violence in the US.

“This attack follows a cruel and disturbing trend of increased violence targeting Asian people in the US,” said a representative of the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center in March

“The victims of this violence didn’t deserve to be humiliated, hurt, or killed during an ordinary day of work because of what they looked like, where they were from, or how they earned a living,” said Clement Lee, Esq., Associate Director of Immigration Legal Services.

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