I had wondered what ever happened in the case of the little Burmese girl murdered in March 2008 by a fellow refugee in a Salt Lake City housing complex for refugees. Hat tip: a friend from the UK.
Yesterday, all those assembled in the courtroom, expecting to hear the accused murderer plead guilty and be sentenced, were shocked and dismayed by his outburst in which he claimed he was innocent.
From the Salt Lake Tribune*:
A Burmese refugee accused of killing 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo two years ago angrily denied his guilt in court on Friday.
“I was forced by the authorities here to say that I did it, but I didn’t kill,” said Esar Met, according to an interpreter for the girl’s family, who translated the statement for The Tribune .
Hser Ner Moo’s family, who traveled from Iowa for Friday’s hearing, had been told Met would plead guilty and be sentenced, the interpreter said.
But when Met’s attorney told the judge they had reached a resolution in the case, Met, whose legs and hands had been shaking, shook his head to the contrary. Met then spoke passionately in Burmese, after which his attorneys requested a break so they could confer with Met.
About an hour later, 3rd District Court Judge Judith Atherton returned to the bench and defense attorney Michael Peterson said, “There are inquiries we need to make and then report back.”
I’m not surprised to learn that the little girl’s parents had moved from Salt Lake City where their lives had taken a tragic turn. See my post of October 2008 about the family’s grief 6 months after the murder (links in here to original postings also).
Following Met’s courtroom outburst, Hser Ner Moo’s parents, Pearlly Wa and Cartoon Wah, wiped away tears. They moved to Marshalltown, Iowa, last fall, overwhelmed with frustration about the stalled case.
Met, believed to be 23 years old, is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping for allegedly beating, sexually assaulting and strangling the girl at his South Salt Lake City apartment on March 31, 2008.
I am assuming from this segment of the article that Hser Ner Moo did not know her killer before arriving in the US.
Esar Met and Hser Ner Moo lived in separate parts of the same refugee camp for Burmese refugees in Thailand before immigrating to the United States, where both lived at the South Parc Townhomes…
Read the whole article. There are many more details than we have seen previously.
* The Salt Lake Tribune is one of the few newspaper in the country willing to do thorough and careful reporting on the refugee resettlement program and we have cited articles from it on many occasions. Search RRW for ‘Salt Lake City’ for many articles on the difficulties there with too many refugee.