The suspect in the Atlanta-area shootings could face the death penalty

March 18, 2021

robert aaron long

  • Robert Long, 21, was charged with eight counts of murder by Georgia prosecutors Wednesday.
  • Eight people, six of whom were Asian, were killed at three Atlanta massage parlours on Tuesday.
  • Long said he did it to remove sexual temptation but prosecutors are considering hate crime charges.

The suspect in Tuesday night’s Atlanta-area shootings could meet the threshold for receiving the death penalty under Georgia law.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault after shootings took place at three massage parlors across the city area.

In a press conference on Wednesday, law enforcement officials said that Long admitted to carrying out the attacks. However, he has yet to enter a plea to the charges.

He is due to appear in court Thursday, where he may issue a plea but does not have to.

If Long is ultimately convicted, the charges open him to Georgia’s death penalty. Prosecutors would have to choose whether to pursue it, and so far have not discussed the matter in public.

Robert Long Georgia Shooting
Security footage released by the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office in Georgia shows the 21-year-old suspect, Robert Long, getting into a car. Cherokee Sheriff’s Office

Under title 17 of the 2010 Georgia Code, most murders do not qualify for punishment by death.

But if one of 11 criteria are met, then it can be considered. They are listed here by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which also reported that Long could face the death penalty.

Some of the criteria – such as if the offender was on the run from prison, or if the victim was a police officer – appear not to apply. Others are broader, such as if the killings took place during another crime, or using a particularly dangerous weapon.

In Georgia, the death penalty is carried out by lethal injection. As of January, 39 men and one woman were on death row, state Department of Corrections data shows.

Out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night, six were Asian women, meaning prosecutors are deciding whether to charge Long with a hate crime, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and 11Alive reported.

Long told law enforcement that race did not play a part in the attack, saying instead that he was a sex addict and wanted to remove temptation.

“During his interview, he gave no indicators that this was racially motivated,” Frank Reynolds, Cherokee County Sheriff, said Wednesday.

“We asked him that specifically and the answer was no.”

The attack on Tuesday is the latest in a series which indicates attacks on Asian Americans in the US is on the rise.

As of Thursday morning, four of the Atlanta-area victims had been identified: Xiaojie Tan, 49, Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, and Daoyou Feng, 44.

David Barkley, senior Southeast counsel for the Anti-Defamation League, told the AJC: “We would urge the local prosecutor to bring hate crime charges along with the other charges.”

Atlanta – Prosecutor John Tanner’s religious remarks get killer new death penalty hearing – Anthony Farina

january, 31, 2014

A federal appeals court in Atlanta, citing former state attorney John Tanner’s biblical references during sentencing, has thrown out the death sentence against a man convicted in the killing of a teenage worker during a robbery at a Taco Bell in Daytona Beach in 1992.

Anthony Farina

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has ordered a new sentencing for Anthony Farina, 40, who was convicted in the slaying of 17-year-old Michelle Van Ness during the robbery on May 9, 1992, at the Taco Bell on Beville Road. Also convicted in the killing was Farina’s brother Jeffrey Farina, the triggerman.

The brothers forced four workers into a freezer and then Jeffrey Farina shot three of them before the gun misfired. That’s when Anthony Farina handed his brother a knife and Jeffrey Farina stabbed a fourth employee. All survived except for Van Ness.

Tanner, who lost his bid for re-election in 2008 against R.J. Larizza, could not be reached Thursday.

The state plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Both brothers received the death sentence but the Florida Supreme Court reduced Jeffrey Farina’s to life because he as 16 at the time he killed Van Ness.

The appeals court said Tanner went too far when questioning the Rev. James Davis, a prison pastor who had been called by defense attorney William Hathaway to testify about counseling Anthony Farina at prison.

Tanner drew heavily from the Bible during his questioning of Davis, “urging the implementation of God’s law,” the 11th Circuit ruling states.

“While elevating his own station as divinely-ordained authority, the prosecutor made clear that the death penalty was the sole acceptable punishment under divine law, noting how Christ himself refused to grant a felon forgiveness from the death penalty.”

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Justice Department investigates 2 ex-prosecutors involved in federal death penalty case in Ga.

may 13, 2012 Source :

ATLANTA — The Justice Department is investigating two former federal prosecutors in Atlanta because of alleged misconduct in a death penalty case, the chief federal prosecutor here said.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said she reported Todd Alley and Matthew Jackson to the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility last month after U.S. District Senior Judge Clarence Cooper accused the pair of repeatedly deceiving him during pretrial litigation in the capital case of Brian Richardson, according to The Daily Report ( ).

Cooper issued an order outlining his problems with the two lawyers during the penalty phase of Richardson’s trial after a jury had found him guilty of murdering a fellow inmate at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta. The jury later deadlocked on the death penalty, leaving Cooper to sentence Richardson to life without parole.

Yates told the newspaper it was the second time she asked the department’s disciplinary arm to investigate Alley and Jackson in connection with Richardson’s case. She said she reported both prosecutors last year and pulled them from the case after public defenders accused the two of violating an order that had disqualified Alley from the case.

She said she called for the investigation after Richardson’s attorneys told her that Jackson, in a recorded conversation with another federal inmate, made inappropriate comments about the defense team. Richardson’s lawyers also accused Alley of taking multiple phone calls from the same inmate, a potential witness in the case against Richardson, even after he had been disqualified from the case.

She said it was the second time she has asked the department’s disciplinary arm to investigate the two.

Alley, who is now in private practice, declined to comment to The Daily Report. Jackson, who is now a federal prosecutor in Florida, couldn’t be reached for comment by The Daily Report. The two did not immediately return calls seeking comment from The Associated Press on Sunday.

Richardson’s defense team said in court pleadings and an interview with the newspaper that Alley and Jackson engaged in intentional and repeated misconduct. They cited recorded phone calls with the inmate in which Jackson disparaged the defense team. In one call, Jackson joked that if the inmate were to kill a defense attorney, “we’ll go light on you.”

Richardson faced the death penalty for the July 2007 killing of Steven Obara, 60, who was stabbed and choked before he was strangled to death. The inmate, who was abused as a child, told authorities he targeted his cellmate because Obara was serving a prison sentence on child molestation charges.

The death penalty case was a rarity in the federal court system, and prosecutors and federal defense lawyers devoted considerableresources to it. Authorities say Richardson was a cold-blooded killer who lulled Obara into believing they were friends and then turned on him. But his defense team argued that Richardson’s violent past was rooted in an abusive childhood that led to mental illness.