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High court upholds conviction of man who killed 7-year-old girl

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Supreme Court has upheld the conviction a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a 7-year-old girl in 2008.

Esar Met, 29, is serving two life sentences for the murder of Hser Ner Moo, his young neighbor. He was convicted of aggravated murder and child kidnapping.

Met had requested a new trial, claiming: improper translation tainted his interview with police and his chance to testify at trial, that a "gruesome" photo of Hser's body presented by police at trial prejudiced jurors, and that a jury should have decided his prison sentence rather than a judge.

Both he and Hser Ner Moo's family came to America from refugee camps in Myanmar. Met had only been in Utah for 30 days when Hser was found dead in his South Salt Lake apartment.

Met spoke almost no English at trial, and special interpreters had to be flown to Utah for his trial. Language issues resulted in numerous delays of court proceedings. He wasn't convicted until 2014, six years after Hser's death.

While upholding Met's conviction, the state's high court also noted "that the district court erroneously treated life without parole as the presumptive sentence for Met's aggravated murder conviction. … Accordingly, we remand the case for the limited purpose of permitting the district court to clarify what impact its misapprehension of the law had on its sentencing decision or for resentencing on the aggravated murder charge."

However, the Utah Supreme Court upheld the sentence of life without parole given for the child kidnapping conviction.