Verdict ends Burmese family’s search for justice


By Liesl Hansen

SALT LAKE CITY —  Reporters surrounded the doors to the 3rd District courtroom, the site of Esar Met’s murder trial. They waited for the trial’s verdict trial as the jury more than five hours to deliberate.

It was a scene of waiting and then relief for family members Friday, Jan. 17, as a jury declared Met guilty of kidnapping and then brutally murdering a 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo in March 2008.

Esar Met listens as the jury confirms a guilty verdict in Judge Judith Atherton’s courtroom in the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Met was convicted of murder of 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo, who disappeared in 2008. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Lennie Mahler)

The defense rested its case in the morning and the defendant Met did not testify. After the defense closed, the judge dismissed three members of the jury and five women and three men were left to deliberate on Esar Met’s fate,

Friends and family connected with both Esar Met and Hser Ner Moo waited outside the courtroom as the afternoon wore on. A group from Bikers Against Child Abuse was there to support Hser Ner Moo’s family. One Burmese woman slept on the floor with her head in another woman’s lap, who held her and stroked her back.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m., the jury had made a decision. Everyone gathered in the halls walked back into the courtroom. The air was tense as everyone sat in silence in the courtroom, waiting for the jury to present its verdict. Burmese neighbors and family sat scattered throughout the room, Hser Ner Moo’s parents blinking back tears as they waited for the jury to file in.

The jury entered the courtroom, some of the members clutching tissues. They moved silently to their seats and the foreman handed the verdict to the judge. The jury pronounced Met guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on both counts of aggravated kidnapping and murder.

People the courtroom were forbidden to show any reaction to the verdict until the jury left. Many people looked happy and relieved as they left, and Hser Ner Moo’s parents looked especially relieved.

In previous days before the trial ended, a DNA forensic expert had testified about the crime scene he had investigated. He found new evidence that was not present earlier – blood from Hser Ner Moo that was found on Met’s jacket, which prompted the defense to ask for a mistrial since this new evidence could help Esar Met’s case. They later withdrew the motion. A forensic nurse who examined Esar Met for sexual assault days after the murder testified of the wounds found on Esar Met’s body.

“This has been a long case, this has been an emotional case, ther have been lot of feelings involved,” Judge Judith Atherton said.

Esar Met will not be sentenced until May, but at least after six years, Hser Ner Moo’s case has finally reached a solution.

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