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Accused spa shooter pleads not guilty as prosecutors pursue death penalty for killing 4 Atlanta spa workers

Robert Aaron Long, convicted of killing 4 Atlanta spa workers
Robert Aaron Long, convicted of killing 4 Atlanta spa workers(WGCL)
Updated: Sep. 28, 2021 at 1:55 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - The man currently serving life in prison for murdering four people at a massage parlor in Cherokee County has plead not guilty to the murder of four other people shot that day at similar businesses.

In his first plea, gunman Robert Aaron Long, 22, pleaded guilty for the murders at Young’s Asian Massage on March 16. Long entered guilty pleas for all 23 counts in the indictment.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The victims were Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, Delaina Yaun, Paul Michels and Daoyou Feng.

Long told police that the attack was not racially motivated and claimed to have a “sex addiction,” with authorities saying he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation.

On Tuesday, he appeared in Fulton County Superior Court on charges relating to Murder, Domestic Terrorism and Aggravated Assault.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her team of prosecutors declared in late August their intent to seek the death penalty and pursue hate crime violations against Long.

The proceeding began shortly after 9 a.m. Long and lasted only a few minutes. Long never spoke. Instead he sat quietly as his defense team appeared before a judge, waived arraignment, entered a not guilty plea. Family members of the victims sat in the court room watching Long begin to face justice.

“They’re all puzzled that he did not officially say anything, but I tried to warn them that it is kind of normal,” said Attorney Bjay Pak who represents the families of Yong Ae Yue and Suncha Kim.

“Each time they come, they come here because they are seeking closure and justice. So, that’s why they try to show up every hearing every time the defendant comes to court to make sure that the judge and everybody that’s discussing justice sees the faces of the victims and what is lost,” Pak said.

Rob Peterson and his brother lost their mother Yong Ae Yue. Suncha Kim was a mother and grandmother who leaves behind her husband and family. Pak says he communicates with both families consistently.

“They come here because they are seeking closure and justice. It’s hard,” Pak said. “Bobby [Robert Peterson] is here and I talk to him pretty frequently. They are in mourning. Words can’t really accurately describe all the turmoil that goes on and try to make sense of what happened,” Pak continued.

The next hearing will take place in a few months. Attorneys will begin gathering evidence to prepare for a trial.