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5th preliminary hearing set for man accused of killing 7-year-old

Published: Monday, July 2 2012 5:57 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — A new preliminarily hearing date has been set for the man accused of killing a 7-year-old girl as attorneys attempt to again work through interpreter issues.

The new preliminary hearing dates for Esar Met, 25, were scheduled for Nov. 7-9 and resuming on Nov. 13-16.

Met is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping in the March 2008 death of Hser Ner Moo whose body was found a day after she went missing in Met's basement apartment. Investigators believe the young girl was raped, strangled and beaten to death.

The case has faced numerous delays, including four preliminary hearings that were postponed because of problems with finding acceptable interpreters for the case.

Met is a Burmese refugee. Hser Ner Moo's family are also refugees from Myanmar.

The problem has been there are no court-certified Burmese interpreters in the United States. There are registered interpreters, but they have not been able to meet the standards of the court.

In June, two interpreters were brought from California in advance of what was to be a weeklong preliminary hearing. But after giving an in-court test to the interpreters, defense attorneys voiced concerns. They argued that the translations were inconsistent and not adequate.

Monday, 3rd District Judge William Barrett told attorneys that Judge Judith Atherton was expected to file an order soon to address the interpreter issue. Two to three Burmese interpreters were expected to be needed for the preliminary hearing, and they likely would have to be flown in from out of state.

Rob Parrish, with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, said a Burmese interpreter would be needed for Met, another for the seven witnesses the state is expected to call, another who speaks Karen to act as interpreter for Hser Ner Moo's family and a Spanish speaking interpreter.

"I don't think there's been a case like this in Utah," Parrish said.

Wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, Met appeared briefly in court Monday with his long hair reaching down his back and pulled into a ponytail, his hands cuffed behind his back, legs shackled.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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