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SALT LAKE CITY — A preliminary hearing has been set for Esar Met, a refugee from Myanmar charged with kidnapping and murder in the death of a 7-year-old girl.
At a hearing in December, attorneys indicated that Met, 25, was going to waive his right to the court procedure. In exchange, prosecutors had agreed not to pursue the death penalty for the death of Hser Ner Moo. But instead, Met indicated through an interpreter that he did want the hearing held.
Prosecutor Rob Parrish indicated he had concerns about the man's competency, and 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton told attorneys to determine how they wanted to proceed.
Monday, 3rd District Judge William Barrett scheduled the hearing for June 11-15.
Met is charged with capital murder and child kidnapping, first-degree felonies, in the 2008 death of 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo. The girl apparently walked away from her South Salt Lake apartment on March 31 of that year. Her body was found the next day in the bathroom of Met's basement apartment. Authorities believe the child was raped, strangled and beaten to death the afternoon that she disappeared.
Met's struggles to understand the court process, which is foreign to him. An interpreter is present at each hearing, which has been part of the reason for the delay that has kept the case from proceeding very far in more than three and a half years.
Earlier, plea negotiations apparently stalled when Met expressed his concerns over pleading guilty, due to cultural misunderstandings. Attorneys have said Met is under the impression that if he were to plead, he would be "summarily dealt with."