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A June preliminary hearing has been set for a Burmese refugee accused of killing his 7-year-old neighbor, Hser Ner Moo, three years ago.

Esar Met, believed to be 24 years old, is charged with first-degree felony counts of aggravated murder and child kidnapping for allegedly beating, sexually assaulting and strangling the girl at his South Salt Lake apartment on March 31, 2008.

A five-day preliminary hearing — to decide if the case should proceed to trial — is set to begin June 27 before 3rd District Judge William Barrett.

Attorneys had hoped to resolve the case with a plea deal last May.

Instead, Met angrily told Judge Judith Atherton in his native language, "I was forced by the authorities here to say that I did it, but I didn't kill," according to an interpreter.

Met and Hser Ner Moo lived in separate parts of the same camp for Burmese refugees in Thailand before immigrating to the United States, where both lived at the South Parc Townhomes, at 2250 S. 500 East, in South Salt Lake.

Met allegedly killed the girl inside his basement apartment, where her body was found a day after her disappearance sparked a massive search of the neighborhood.