Elephant Rides - https://trenthead.com/ TRENT NELSON - PHOTOJOURNALIST

Elephant Rides

Esar Met listens during his murder trial in Salt Lake City, Tuesday January 7, 2014. Met is accused of killing 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo in 2008 You know horsey rides, right? Where you get down on all fours and a child climbs on your back and you gallop and buck and horse around? I guess people in other countries do it, too.

That’s what the defense attorney said as he asked the members of the jury to keep their minds open about Esar Met’s guilt or innocence.

People from Southeast Asia, like the Burmese refugee kids at the South Park apartment complex, call horsey rides elephant rides. Esar Met would give them elephant rides and the attorney told the jury that that might explain why 7-year-old Hser Ner Moo’s blood was found on Met’s denim jacket when he was arrested for her murder. His DNA was under her fingernails as well.

Then the prosecution started to show the crime scene photos. Nothing really explains how one of Hser Ner Moo’s tiny purple shoes landed in that filthy toilet in the basement, the other shoe falling behind and beneath the porcelain. Or why the little girl ended up murdered, face down in the shower.

I photographed some of the evidence photos shown during the trial. The ones I didn’t photograph, the ones too disturbing to show, will be burned in my mind for a long time. They were pretty horrifying, just as we had been warned.

I photographed Hser Ner Moo’s father, Cartoon Wah, while the search for the missing child was still underway at the South Park apartments. You can read about that here: https://trenthead.com/2008/04/hser-goes-missing. If you want more from the trial, reporter @Marissa_Jae is there.


Mark J: I thought looking at evidence photos wouldn’t be so bad. That there would be enough of a disconnect, like it was acted out for a movie, where I wouldn’t be too disturbed by it. Not the case and there are a few photos displayed in court still stuck in my head I wish I’d never looked at.

Trent Nelson: no doubt Mark. reality hits way harder than Hollywood.

January 9, 2014 .:.