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Police officers break down while testifying of Utah girl’s death

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"We were all looking for Hser Ner Moo," said Pender, who befriended the family after she assisted them in registering Hser Ner Moo and her brother Sunday Moo in a local public school. "There were so many people in and out of the apartment. ... We ended up sending people away."

Pearlly Wa, the child’s mother, was frantic, Pender said. She kept running outside to search for her daughter’s footprints in the slow-melting snow even after officers asked her to stay put.

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A Missing Peace

Reporter Julia Lyon traveled to Thailand to trace the journeys of Hser Ner Moo and Esar Met from the Mae La refugee camp to Salt Lake City. Her series, reported in collaboration with the International Reporting Project, also explored the challenges their families and other refugees face in America. See the series at http://extras.sltrib.com/thailand.

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"I’ll never forget the look on her face, just the fear in her eyes that she couldn’t find her little girl," Pender said. "When it came to be nighttime and we still couldn’t find her, she was just desperate."

The family did not know Met or that the girl had visited his apartment before.

Defense attorneys have implied one of Met’s four roommates could have been responsible for the girl’s disappearance and death.

Met, who had also been living in a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand before moving to the U.S., arrived in the apartment about a month before the slaying. The other men had been there longer.

Met’s roommates were arrested on April 1, 2008, but later released.

Police said at the time that the four men were not home when the girl was killed and did not know her body was in Met’s basement bathroom.

Forensic experts walked a jury through the bloody crime scene Thursday as prosecutors projected graphic photographs in court.

Blood streaked the white walls and dotted the carpet in the basement where Met had been living. Trickles of red dotted the linoleum floor of the bathroom, a trail that led investigators to find the child crumpled in the tub.

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She was facedown, one arm broken. Someone had stuffed her discarded underwear beneath her head and bent her legs to fit the child’s small body into the narrow basin.

Her hair and skin were wet, as were her clothes, said investigator Brent Marchant, who worked on the case for the medical examiner’s office. He guessed the perpetrator had tried to wash her.

"She was very cold," he said, estimating she had been dead for at least 18 hours. "She had been through quite a struggle, a violent struggle."

On Friday, prosecutors will likely call relatives of the defendant to testify.


Twitter: @Marissa_Jae

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