Robert Aaron Long

Robert Aaron Long

The Cherokee County criminal case against the accused gunman in March’s Atlanta spa shootings may be resolved next week, according to Fulton County authorities prosecuting him there.

Robert Aaron Long has an arraignment scheduled in Cherokee County Tuesday, according to the Cherokee district attorney’s office. The court has not yet released the time of Tuesday’s arraignment.

Authorities in Fulton County say the Cherokee case could be resolved then, Fulton Deputy District Attorney Jeff DiSantis told the Tribune. DiSantis provided no further details on whether the prosecution and defense teams might come to some type of plea agreement before Tuesday.

A Fulton County judge has ordered Long, the 22-year-old Woodstock man accused of killing eight people in the shootings, to be transferred into Fulton Custody next month.

Long is accused in a series of mass shootings March 16 that began at Young’s Asian Massage off Highway 92 near Acworth, where authorities say he shot five people, four of whom died. Investigators say after the Cherokee County shooting, he drove 30 miles to Atlanta and fired at people at Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa, killing four more people.

Authorities arrested Long in Crisp County, and investigators believe Long was traveling to Florida to target more spas there.

Six of the eight victims were Asian women.

After his arrest, Long blamed the shootings on his sex addiction, and described the spas as an “outlet” for that addiction, according to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.

In Cherokee County, Long has been indicted on four counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, 11 counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and criminal damage to property in the first degree.

In Fulton, he was indicted on four counts each of murder and felony murder and five counts of aggravated assault, domestic terrorism and multiple counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Media reports say Willis has said Cherokee prosecutors are close to reaching a plea deal with Long’s attorneys.

Asked whether a plea deal was pending, Cyndi Crossland, public information officer for the district’s attorney’s office, said they could not comment.

“District Attorney Shannon Wallace is ethically prohibited from commenting as the professional rules of conduct prohibit any lawyer connected with a case from discussing plea negotiations or the possibility of a plea,” Crossland said in an email.

Long is scheduled to appear in court in Fulton County for a plea and arraignment 9 a.m. Aug. 23, according to a judge’s order filed Wednesday

In Fulton County, District Attorney Fani Willis is pursuing hate crimes charges and the death penalty.

Willis said in a statement that she hopes the case proceeds quickly.

“After Mr. Long concludes his hearing in Cherokee County, I want to ensure that the process in Fulton County proceeds as quickly as possible,” she said. “The victims of the crimes Mr. Long is accused of committing in Fulton County deserve no less.”

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Shannon Ballew is the managing editor at the Cherokee Tribune and the Cherokee Ledger-News. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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