Utah murder trial ends with guilty verdict for Burmese Muslim refugee

It was a trial that riveted readers of The Salt Lake Tribune for the last couple of weeks, but barely made news outside of Utah.  Esar Met, a Burmese Muslim man, was arrested in 2008 for the brutal sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old Burmese girl in their Salt Lake City apartment building.   A jury found him guilty yesterday.

Met had only been in the US one month and had been assigned to live in a building filled with fellow Burmese, but they were all Christians and roommates described the tension that created among them.  They had lived in separate parts of the camp in Thailand.

Hser Ner Moo’s father Cartoon Wah (right) said after the verdict: “My only daughter is still no more.”
http://www.ksl.com/?sid=22985680

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

He lured the child with games and treats. He made her laugh, helped her feel safe and welcome in the depths of his basement home.

But on March 31, 2008, a jury ruled Friday, kindness turned to violence as Esar Met sexually assaulted, beat and killed 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo.

Jurors entered the courtroom Friday after more than five hours of deliberation looking haggard and spent. They had sat through nine days of testimony, 41 witnesses and more than two hours of closing arguments that morning.

Two female jurors held tissues at the ready. Their eyes looked as if they had already been crying.

In the gallery, packed with friends and family of the young victim, a tense silence filled the air, punctuated only by the quiet sobs of Pearlly Wa — the mother who lost her only daughter nearly six years ago.

Met was convicted of child kidnapping and aggravated murder, both first-degree felonies that could land the 27-year-old Burmese refugee in prison for the rest of his life.

[….]

He had been in the country just one month, and would spend the next six years behind bars awaiting trial.

He could get 20 years to life when he is sentenced in May.  Scary thought that he could ever be released.  And, too bad for Utah taxpayers, maybe they should appeal to Congress for an extra stipend to pay for his trial and for the next 20 years of his life since it was the federal government—the US State Department and its contractors (Catholic Charities?)—that dumped him in Utah.

By the way, over the years The Salt Lake Tribune has acted like a real investigative news outlet, even sending a reporter to Thailand back in 2008.  One thing reporter Julia Lyon learned is that Met was considered “not right” in the camp, so who decided he would be a good citizen of America?

For new readers, all of our previous coverage of the case, going back years, may be found by clicking here.

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