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    Default Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Utah

    This involves the conviction of Esar Met in Salt Lake City, for the murder of Hser Ner Moo in 2008.

    I'll copy part of a post from Reddit to give some details and links, but the basic question is what options does that person have?
    1) A false confession, using the Reid Technique, was obtained by the FBI and a Salt Lake Detective.
    2) At the initial investigation there was substantial evidence against one or more of his roommates, but there was pressure on the police to solve the case quickly due to a similar murder having occured in the same area less than 2 years previous.
    3) Esar Met has no funds obviously for a genuine appeal.

    Below is part of the post from Reddit.

    A child was murdered in Salt Lake city in 2008.
    Esar Met was convicted for the murder in 2014, and is serving life without parole.
    Some links are at the bottom, please request any additional links you cannot find easily.

    ~

    Myanmar, Burma, has a history of one ethnic group using rape accusations as a way to foment trouble with another ethnic group. The victim and the five people living in the apartment where her body was found are all refugees from Myanmar. The four roommates and the accused are from one ethnic group and were openly hostile to the accused. The roommates may have been angry at the child for being friendly to the accused.

    ~

    Esar Met arrives in Salt Lake City in 2008. Hser Ner Moo and her family, and the roommates of Esar Met, had been there a while.

    Esar Met comes from a different group than his roommates and they make plain that they don't care for his group. Two of the roommates are middle aged men, 30s or 40s, two are younger, perhaps in their 20s.

    Esar Met is friendly with the child. In the interview he says "I know this girl because we always played together. She used to ask to ride my bike and we rode the bike together. Now that she’s dead, how am I supposed [to know] who killed her. I don’t even know what to say that I have been accused of her murder.... She was like a sister to me. This kid. She’s like my real sister." and "She and I were like a sister and brother. We were friends. We played together. Everyone around noticed that. Everyone in our quarter knew that. I and xxx (cannot hear well) We were as if [siblings]. She followed me wherever I went. If I rode bicycle, she followed me with her bike. She and I were very close…"

    ~

    According to the videotaped interview, the day before the murder, Esar Met's uncle asks him to buy some tire sealant to repair his bicycle and stop by the next day to fix the bicycle. His uncle bicycles to work. Esar Met buys the sealant with a friend and prepares to leave in the early afternoon. Early in the interview he says "Yenoot called me that morning and told me that the girl I always played with was missing and I was at my uncle’s house at that time. I had to buy the glue and take it to my uncle’s home to fix the bike tire. Yenoot called 2 or 3 hours after I got to my uncle’s home to tell that she was missing and ask me if I knew about that."

    Esar Met insists he did not know about her being dead, but it is made clear to him that he must confess to killing her.

    Before he has agreed to make a confession he is told "The things that you did are really bad for your life" to which he replies "I don’t understand what you mean."

    The interrogators then lit into him, saying, among other things, the following.
    ~ Translator "He’ll tell you all the things that need to be said and you will have to tell them the truth. A confession."
    ~ Translator "And after that, you have to be quiet. You need to stay quiet...You understand?"
    ~ Translator "Before you say something, as I said earlier, you can tell them what you know and you can also tell them if you didn’t do it. This is your right...Do you understand? When they ask you a question, you tell them the truth – if you did it or you didn’t do it. You will have to face all those things at the court....And depending on the crime you have committed, you will be punished with a fine or some other sort of punishment."
    ~ Translator "She died in your bathroom...She was found dead in your bathroom with all the footprints of yours and blood on her body."
    ~ Translator "They don’t believe you."
    ~ Translator "Was it an accident? Do you think it was an accident that she died in your bathroom?"
    ~ Translator "Don’t lie....It’s not gonna be good for you, if you continue to lie...They know you did it."
    ~ Translator "You were the last person to see her alive..."
    ~ FBI agent "We know it was you. Your footprint is next to her body. Don’t lie to me.
    ~ FBI agent "Your footprint. It was right next to her dead body. We know you had her down the basement."
    ~ FBI agent "Her blood is on your bed..."
    ~ FBI agent "Her blood is on the wall."
    ~ Salt Lake "City detective Was it an accident or did you plan this?"
    ~ Translator "Now, what he wants to know is if it was an accident or if you planned it. Was it an accident or did you plan it?"
    ~ FBI agent "Say it again!"
    ~ Translator "Now, what he wants to know is if it was an accident or if you planned it. Was it an accident or did you plan it?"
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "because we can understand it if it was an accident."
    ~ Translator "But from what they understand, it was an accident."
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "If it wasn’t an accident, you must have planned to do this."
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "So, was it an accident or did you plan this?"
    ~ Translator "What they want to know is “Was it an accident or did you plan this?” They want to know the answer. Which one is it? “Was it an accident or did you do it intentionally?”
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "So, which is it? Was it an accident or did you plan this?" ...
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "Accident or you planned it?"
    ~ Translator "Answer him."
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "Which is it?" ...
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "It’s time to tell us. What happened? We need to know why."
    ~ Translator "Now, it’s time to talk. They’ve been doing this the whole day. You need to talk."
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "Do you want people thinking that you planned this out?"
    ~ Translator "Do you want people to think that you planned this out or do you want them to see it as an accident?"
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "Or do you want people to understand what really happened down there?"
    ~ Translator "What happened down there was.. Do you want people to think that you planned this out or do you want them to see it as an accident?"
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "We don’t think.. we don’t think you meant to hurt her. We don’t think you meant to hurt her. We don’t think you meant to hurt her."...
    ~ FBI agent "Go ahead. Go ahead."
    ~ Translator "They think that you didn’t want to hurt the girl."
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "But things may have gone too far and we need to know what happened."
    ~ Translator "You have been thinking very long and they want to know why."
    ~ FBI agent "Come on. Tell us." ...
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "What happened?"...
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "What happened?"...
    ~ Salt Lake City detective "What happened?"

    At this point he has been told that a) he has to confess, b) it has to be the truth, and c) it has to be soon. He agrees to 'give a confession that is the truth'.

    Later in the interview he would reference the absurdity by saying "Now, I have to say that I killed her. What else can I say?" During the 'appeal' this would be cited as proof that the confession was genuine.

    He agrees to 'truthfully confess', but he is confused about where they want him to say the body is now. In the bathroom? or near the bed? Or somewhere else? He was told there was blood on the wall, but he isn't sure which wall, upstairs or downstairs. He spends the rest of the interview trying to confess, hanging details on the fly as he is given clues. Near the end he is getting tired and really has no idea what to say. Every time he tries to say something they tell him to change it. He mentions the child as being dressed differently than she was when she disappeared, probably mentioning the clothes she wore last time he saw her, but they ignore that.

    The killer or killers had taken the linens from the bed and disposed of them somewhere. The confession might look better if the detective and FBI agent can work in that detail.

    ~ Police "He doesn’t know? Okay. Umm...what happened to your bedsheets? Sheets on his bed? There’s no sheets on his bed down the basement. What happened to his sheets?
    ...
    ~ Translator "And what happened to bed sheets?"
    ~ Suspect "Bed sheets…I use blanket when I sleep. When I get up, I just get out of bed…never fold it."
    ~ Police "Okay. Cause there were no sheets or blanket downstairs. What happened?"
    ~ Translator "Do you have blankets?"
    ~ Suspect "Yes."
    ~ Translator "And bed sheets too?"
    ~ Suspect "Yes, they are in my room."

    If Esar Met had understood that there were no bedsheets he could have fixed that and said something like 'I threw them away", but the translator did not translate that the sheets were missing. So he did not know.

    At no point in the confession does he give any detail that even remotely resembles the crime scene nor the murder, aside from saying he threw the shoes in the bathroom. He said this after saying the shoes were near the entrance, to which the FBI agent repled "No.. no.. no..".

    He creates a scenario that does not match the crime scene but matches what he has been told. Strangely, when he puts a blood stain on the wall, in his story, the translator asks "So, did you kicked her again?". How did the translator know that there were two blood stains on the wall? How did he know that they were both near the ground, indicating possibly two kicks? The translator was a friend of the roommates who had 'volunteered' to help with the case.

    ~

    Perhaps worse than the false confession are the crude attempts to give it credibility.

    It was clearly not useable, but enough people knew details from it that the 'authorities' felt compelled to feed the media a mix of facts and fictions that offered some overlap between the confession and reality.

    ~ At least one of the defense attourneys was led to believe that an accidental death, as per the 'confession', was plausible. This person seems to have unwittingly promoted that possibility through simple naivete.

    ~ The alternative theory that the prosecution may have tried to encourage among the small circle who had seen the confession was 'Perhaps he killed the child accidentally and one of the roommates then further staged the scene to give the appearance of a rape'. But the evidence strongly indicates that did not happen.

    ~ The public was led to believe he had confessed and that the confession was valid.

    ~ The defense and prosecution then worked together to do something very sneaky. The confession was "suppressed" with the caveat that it could be used "to impeach his testimony" if he testified. There are numerous implications this had, but the net effect was that the 'appearance of guilt' was increased, and chances of a conviction if a trial would be necessary grew.

    Everybody involved, prosecution, defense and judge, directly or tacitly pressured him to plead guilty. After being held in jail a long time under unpleasant conditions, he finally agreed to go to the court and plead guilty publicly.

    But when he was brought to the public courthouse for the 'guilty plea' he began shouting that he did not kill the child and the authorities had forced him to say things that weren't true.

    ~

    Many problems developed in the media shortly after his arrest. Including...

    ~ A witness told a reporter that Esar Met had stopped by his house to watch tv around 1pm on the day Hser Ner Moo disappeared which, if true, would suggest he was not the killer.

    ~ An investigator with the prosecution said that a young Burmese friend of the victim had said some things that indicated Esar Met had abused the victim, but the girl herself said that she did not tell the investigator that. Apparently, the same investigator would later emerge as having possibly shady connections to another group of corrupt officials in Utah.

    The judge solved the growing problems by putting a gag order on the case which prevented anybody from talking to the media.

    ~

    On the day of the murder...

    Roughly 2pm Hser Ner Moo is last seen, according to most reports.

    240pm the latest Esar Met could have taken the bus to his uncle's house.

    Her father knocks on the door of the apartment where the 5 Burmese men live that evening. One of the roommates says that she is not there. She was known to visit that house with her friend to watch tv, but later, strangely the roommates gave conflicting accounts on that.

    A friend of Esar Met's calls the uncle's house while she is missing. During the interview Esar Met says "I thought ‘This girl doesn’t usually go around much. She must be in the neighborhood. Yenoot is just trying to mess with me.’" and "The fact that she died in my bathroom makes other people think that I killed her. But actually, I didn’t know anything."

    There were three searches of the apartment complex in the 2 hours following Hser Ner Moo's disappearance. Initially a few apartments, including the one where the roommates were, did not answer the door. By the end of the third search somebody had answered the door at every apartment in the complex, except the apartment where the four roommates were with the body.

    During the search shoes like the one the missing girl was wearing were seen outside a locked room in another apartment. Later the shoes disappeared.

    Finally, late on the second day of the search, four FBI agents knock on the door of apt 472 for upwards of 5 or 10 minutes and finally get a response. They search the apartment and find Hser Ner Moo's body downstairs in the shower of the area where Esar Met stayed.
    The body was still in full rigor mortis and appeared to have just been washed, the skin and clothes are still wet. There was a large plastic bag near the body filled with blood. The shower is next to the boiler room of the apartment. In her hand, the child is clutching a handful of hair yanked from somebody. This hair was sent to the FBI for analysis, and seems to have then disappeared.

    The roommates say that they had just eaten dinner and were going to watch dvds, but one of them is wearing a pullover hat that covers his ears and forehead. He keeps that hat on, including when he was photographed by police.

    The roommates are interviewed. They refer to Esar Met as "a Muslim" and "a bad guy". The roommates drink alcohol, Esar Met doesn't. Despite substantial red flags in the interviews, they are released. They tell the interviewers that Esar Met is at his uncle's house and give his phone number there to the interviewers.

    Police call and say they want to talk to him. Esar Met gives the phone to his aunt and she gives the address of the house. Several dozen officers arrive and kick down the door. They then rough him up and tell the media that he had tried to flee.

    ~

    DNA from Hser Ner Moo, one of the roommates, and an unknown third person are found on the walls downstairs. Esar Met's DNA is not found on the walls or mixed with the blood, despite the fact that he had been living downstairs for a month.

    Fingernail clippings from the body are also tested and they do not contain DNA from Esar Met. This was fixed by simply saying that the DNA under her fingernails "did not exclude" Mr Met. Something which, at trial, morphed into his DNA being under her fingernails.

    Esar Met had an obvious skin problem, and scratches himself crudely on tape four of the interview, and he had just been living on the edge of jungle in a refugee camp... and he slept in a bed that almost certainly had bedbugs... but scratches on his skin were portrayed as 'possibly' having come from killing the child.

    For unknown reasons, time of death was not established precisely. Despite the body still being in full rigor mortis 30 hours after Esar Met left, experts testify that it is possible she died within a timeframe that would allow him to be a suspect.

    Two medical experts testified that the child had been 'raped', or stabbed in the genital area with some object. When the initial investigation started, somebody was asked to search for such an object. The medical experts both said that this happened while the child was alive, and an expert testified further that the appearance was 'a crime of power', in other words the killer was claiming some natural authority to discipline or impose or 'teach' some part of the killer's worldview to the victim, rather than simply having a sexual motive. The killer seems to have had personality traits that would exclude Esar Met.

    During the interview, Esar Met said "When she saw me when I was riding the bike, she borrowed the bike from me and she brought it back after she was done riding." and "...whatever I got to eat… when I brought some snacks, I shared with her... She gave me her snack… if her house gave her some snack… she took and shared them with me."

    Esar Met has now been in prison for this crime a full 10 years.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    I just skimmed that as I'm not going to read it all but I didn't see any legal question. The convicted party should seek assistance from an attorney if they are trying to get out from under this.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    I didn't read your incredibly long post (much less any of the linked documents, but I did google the two names you mentioned.

    The victim was a 7-year old child who was killed in 2008. The defendant was found guilty following a trial in January 2014 and sentenced in May 2014, nearly 5 years ago (no idea why it took so long for the case to go to trial).

    It's way too late for any sort of appeal, so the defendant's only recourse is some sort of post-conviction relief. It will be incredibly difficult and expensive.

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Okay, but here is the problem/question.

    a) You can give a basic overview of the evidence, along with the linked confession transcript and video, to any false confession expert in the world, and they will say it is a false confession. Whatever he is confessing to has no resemblance to the crime.

    b) You can look at the DNA lab results, I can provide a link if you like, and they have no resemblance to what the prosecutor portrayed at the trial.

    c) There is compelling evidence against somebody else.

    d) The guy literally has no money. His family are refugees so they have no money as well.

    e) There was some pretty serious professional misconduct by various individuals involved in the case, and they are resistant to having it publicized/revisited.

    So... should the guy just sit in prison til he dies?

    What would you do if you were in that situation?

    There is no attorney willing to help. Roughly 3 or 4 percent of people in prison are factually not guilty, they did not commit the crime they were imprisoned for https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...d8a_story.html The agencies and organizations that research wrongful convictions have far more cases than they can work. What should the guy do? Should his family try to break him out of jail? Are there any other options available to them?

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Quote Quoting auvest
    View Post
    Okay, but here is the problem/question.

    a) You can give a basic overview of the evidence, along with the linked confession transcript and video, to any false confession expert in the world, and they will say it is a false confession. Whatever he is confessing to has no resemblance to the crime.

    b) You can look at the DNA lab results, I can provide a link if you like, and they have no resemblance to what the prosecutor portrayed at the trial.

    c) There is compelling evidence against somebody else.

    d) The guy literally has no money. His family are refugees so they have no money as well.

    e) There was some pretty serious professional misconduct by various individuals involved in the case, and they are resistant to having it publicized/revisited.

    So... should the guy just sit in prison til he dies?

    What would you do if you were in that situation?
    This isn't really a question, it's bait for a hypothetical.

    As noted above, I'm not going to read all of your post, though I did skim it.

    The conviction was some time ago so the time for appeal has likely passed the defendant by.

    During interrogation things can happen and be said that can appear to be misconduct but aren't. Police have a great deal of latitude in methods and that can include lying and misleading during an interrogation.

    At the end of the day your interpretation of events is irrelevant as you don't really know what happened or what was said in all events throughout the timeline in your most exhaustive and unreadable post. Unless the defendant can either raise some cold hard cash and/or convince a good attorney who has had success in this area of law to work pro bono then there really isn't much to do.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    So... should the guy just sit in prison til he dies?
    If he is truly innocent, no. Unfortunately, innocent people get sent to prison. Some die there.

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    What would you do if you were in that situation?
    Try to find an attorney. There are organizations such as the Innocence Project that may be able to help. It may take time for them to get around to his case but he needs to get on their radar.

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    What should the guy do?
    Keep his nose clean in prison. Keep looking for help.

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    Should his family try to break him out of jail?
    No, that's silly. And illegal.

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    What would you do if you were in that situation?
    He and his family can try and find a lawyer willing to represent him or he can try and figure out how to do it himself. I have to assume that the validity of the confession was litigated as part of the case 5+ years ago and that things didn't work out for the defendant, so I am skeptical that your assertion that "anyone" who looked into this would see it as an invalid confession is as clear cut as you claim. No one here has a magic wand that will make everything ok.

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    I didn't read everything you posted but I will clear up a few misconceptions you have. 1st, if the court excluded the confession and said it would only be admissible if the defendant testified, that means that the court found that the confession was coerced. That is the law in the US. Nothing sneaky about it. I'm assuming that he didn't testify. Generally, people charged with murder are discouraged by counsel from testifying because it rarely works in their favor. As to the DNA, the full report likely said a lot more. DNA is based upon statistics. If you're not excluded, the report will also show the statistical likelihood that the sample belongs to anyone other than the defendant, such as 1/300,000,000 chance it isn't his...Lastly, when a body has gone into and out of rigors, determining the actual time of death is simply not possible. The can only give a time range and the calculation would start from when the victim was last seen.

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Re confession
    The confession was extremely problematic. They didn't just 'suppress' it. They led the public, including the jury pool, to believe it was a genuine confession that could not be used for legalistic reasons. Then they tried to prevent anybody from examining it by 'suppressing it, except for impeachment should he testify'. Incredibly, the prosecutor got the defense lawyer to do that for him. Then the defense lawyer tried to get him to plead guilty. After a few years in jail he agreed to plead guilty, but when they brought him to court he started yelling that he wasn't guilty. They restrained him and told the media he had 'an outburst'.

    re DNA
    The DNA results, even if they were as the prosecutor portrayed them, are not meaningful evidence. It is a red herring. Basically the prosecutor wanted to blind the jury by saying 'we have DNA evidence, therefore he is guilty'. The actual DNA test, even as portrayed by the prosecutor, do not indicate guilt.


    re rigor

    A good point you make, but here are some details. 1) The body was in full rigor 30 hours after the latest the accused could have been there 2) The victim was a small child, roughly 50 pounds with little muscle or fat, so rigor would have come and passed faster than with an adult 3) The bathroom where the body was found was next to the boiler room so temperature was not too cold. Also, all inhabitants of the apartment were from the tropics and the accused owned only one jacket so temp would not have been too low. Agreed that rigor is extremely variable, but even by the medical examiner's math the accused was a tough fit for the timeline. Other things that indicate later time of death include that the skin of the body was wet, somebody tried to wash it shortly before it was found.

    I am not an expert in anything, but there are soo many red flags in this case, even aside from the obvious indications he is not guilty, that it does need to be re examined. The original trial, and the appeal, were entirely run by and for the prosecution. The most basic ethics were completely ignored. The question now is what options does that guy have?

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    Default Re: Murder/Kidnapping Conviction Due to False Confession

    Quote Quoting auvest
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    The question now is what options does that guy have?
    As you have been told, repeatedly: Find a lawyer to help him. It may take weeks, months, years or theoretically never happen. That and keeping his nose clean inside are his only options.

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