It had been two weeks since Esar Met moved into Apartment 472, and his roommates still did not know his name.
When police searching for a missing girl asked the four roommates about the man who lived downstairs on April 1, 2008, roommate Maung Myo Mye testified Tuesday, they offered descriptions: He was the Muslim, the Indian.
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Esar Met timeline
March 31, 2008
» 1:30 to 2 p.m.: Hser Ner Moo last seen by her family.
» 2:39 p.m.: The latest Esar Met could had left his South Salt Lake apartment to catch a bus to Cottonwood Heights, where he stayed the night at the home of his aunt and uncle.
» 3:30 to 4 p.m.: Esar Met arrives at his aunt and uncle’s home.
» 6:30 to 7 p.m.: Hser Ner Moo’s father, Cartoon Wah, knocks on the door of Esar Met’s apartment; Met’s four roommates said they hadn’t seen the girl.
» Evening: Hundreds of volunteers scour the area looking for the 7-year-old girl.
April 1, 2008:
» 7 p.m.: Hser Ner Moo’s body found in Esar Met’s basement apartment.
» 10 p.m.: Esar Met arrested at his aunt and uncle’s home.
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.
They didn’t learn the man’s name until later that day, until police arrested all five of the men who lived in the South Salt Lake apartment, where the body of 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo was found crumpled in a bathtub.
This rift, defense attorneys said during the sixth day of testimony, runs deeper than the two flights of stairs that separated the four men from Met.
Met, 27, who has been charged in 3rd District Court with child kidnapping and aggravated murder in the 2008 slaying of Hser Ner Moo, speaks Burmese. His roommates speak Karen.
Met is Muslim. His roommates are Christian.
Met did not eat meals with the men. He didn’t often hang out with them in the apartment’s living room.
"He doesn’t eat pork," said roommate Myint Kyi. "So, no, he doesn’t usually eat with us."
Added roommate Po Dee: "I didn’t see him much."
Met has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his lawyers have maintained it was his roommates who may have been responsible for the girl’s disappearance or death.
But under oath Tuesday, all four fervently denied having done anything to harm the girl or knowing of her whereabouts.
"Did you ever do anything to hurt Hser Ner Moo?" prosecutor Robert Parrish asked each of the men.
"Never," Maung Myo Mye said.
"No," Po Dee said.
"I never hurt that kid," Myint Kyi said.
"Why do you ask that? She never even talked to me," Ku Nu said. "We never got close to each other."
The four men said they didn’t know the girl had been missing for as long as she was when police found her lifeless body in the bathroom below.
Some had noticed an increased police presence in the community, but didn’t realize it was a wide-scale search for the little girl — until police found her in their home.
Apartment 472 was the last to be checked after law enforcement spent all night and all day searching nearby apartments, cars and individuals for any trace of Hser Ner Moo.
Officers testified last week that they had tried to make contact with the residents of that apartment, but got no response, despite knocking, calling into the home and shining flashlights through the windows.
The roommates said police came after dinner. They were seated in the living room together watching a movie.Next Page >
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