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SALT LAKE CITY — A man accused of the brutal murder of a 7-year-old girl four years ago says he is not guilty. That was the plea entered by Esar Met at an arraignment on Friday morning.
It's taken more than four years for Esar Met to formally face charges of aggravated murder and child kidnapping. On Friday, he stood before the judge for his arraignment, a sign the case is moving forward.
The court proceedings lasted only a few minutes. Esar Met stood shackled before the judge with his interpretor and attorney were next to him. Met listened as the charges were read including aggravated murder, a first degree felony, and child kidnapping, also a first degree felony. Met pleaded not guilty to both charges and was escorted out of the courtroom.
His attorney had no comment.
Met is accused of beating, strangling and sexually assaulting 7-year-old, Hser Ner Moo in March 2008. She, like him, is a Burmese refugee and was living in a South Salt Lake apartment complex.
Since then, the case has slowly trudged through the legal system. Language barriers, the availability of translation services and Met's understanding of the court process have delayed the case.
Hser Ner Moo's parents were not in the courtroom on Friday, but have followed the case from the beginning. Prosecutors have 60 days to determine if they will seek the death penalty.
Esar Met's next court appearance will be February 22.