SALT LAKE CITY — The jury in the trial of Esar Met, charged with kidnapping and killing a 7-year-old refugee girl nearly six years ago, will begin deliberating Met's fate on Friday.
On Thursday, prosecutors rested their case against Met. Defense attorneys then called for an extended recess while they decided whether to call any witnesses. When court resumed, the defense attorneys announced that they would rest without calling anyone to the stand.
"Mr. Met is electing to not testify at this time," said defense attorney Michael Peterson.
The jury was sent home for the day and told they would hear closing arguments from each side Friday morning before beginning deliberations.
Met, 26, is charged with aggravated murder and child kidnapping, first-degree felonies, in the March 31, 2008, death of Hser Ner Moo. Her disappearance sparked a wide search effort, leading to the discovery of her body the next day in the shower stall of a basement apartment where Met lived. The medical examiner determined she died from blunt force injuries.
Over the past two weeks, prosecutors have called more than two dozen witnesses to testify, including Hser's family members, police and paramedics who found Hser's body, Met's former roommates, the state medical examiner and crime lab technicians.
The defense has tried to raise doubts about the role of Met's roommates during the time Hser was missing. They have also tried to raise questions about DNA presented to the jury.
The case has dragged out for years because of the extreme language barrier involved. During the trial, interpreters sat next to Met to translate what was being said in the courtroom. Likewise, prosecutors needed to use interpreters when questioning Hser's family members and Met's roommates.
All are refugees from Myanmar. Hser Ner Moo and her family, as well as Met's roommates, all spoke Karen. Met speaks Myanmar.
Because of the language barrier the case has presented, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill decided before trial began not to seek the death penalty if Met was convicted in order to avoid further legal delays.