Atlanta spa shootings: Prosecutor seeking death penalty, hate crime charges against suspect

Fulton County, Ga. district attorney Fani Willis announced Tuesday that she would be seeking the death penalty and hate crime charges against the suspect in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlours that killed eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. The suspect was also indicted Tuesday on murder charges by two separate grand juries.

The Fulton County indictment charges the suspect with four counts of murder, four counts of malice murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of possession of a firearm during a felony being committed and one count of domestic terrorism.

Georgia’s new hate crimes law does not provide for a stand-alone hate crime. Instead, once a person has been convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must then determine whether it’s a hate crime, which would carry an additional penalty.

Willis said when she ran for election she could "not imagine a circumstance" where she would seek the death penalty, but March’s crimes changed that.

"Unfortunately a case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants the ultimate penalty and we shall seek it," she told reporters during a press conference.

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