A man has been jailed for life without parole after murdering four people in a shooting spree at day spas in the US state of Georgia.
Robert Aaron Long, 22, could still face the death penalty, however, as he faces four additional counts of murder from the same series of attacks.
On Tuesday, Long pleaded guilty to the first four murders at a day spa in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta.
He affirmed agreement with the state’s recommendation of four life sentences without parole, plus 35 years on other charges, and the judge confirmed the sentence.
Long told the court that he had bought a firearm and a bottle of bourbon, intending to kill himself before deciding to harm the sex industry, saying he had a sex addiction and wanted to eliminate the temptation posed by the businesses.
He said he had gone to the spa on 16 March to “act out, receive sexual favours and hopefully hate myself enough to…end my own life”.
Long said he had been kicked out of his parents’ home two weeks earlier and had stopped taking an anti-depressant for reasons he could not explain.
The fatal shootings of Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44, increased fears in the Asian community of a racially-motivated attack but Cherokee District Attorney Shannon Wallace said her office’s investigation did not turn up any bias based on race or gender.
She also confirmed that people close to Long had never heard him say anything racist.
Ms Wallace said she had intended to pursue the death penalty for the four shootings but the victims’ families had wanted the case resolved quickly without a trial.
However, Long still faces the death penalty if convicted of the other four shooting deaths in Atlanta, where he also faces charges of domestic terrorism.
Following the first shootings, Long drove south to the city, where he is accused of fatally shooting three women at Gold Spa before crossing the street to Aromatherapy Spa and killing another woman.
He is scheduled to appear next month in Fulton County, where District Attorney Fani Willis filed notice she intends to seek the hate crime enhancement, along with the death penalty.