Pre-trial examination of Police Detective Bob Thompson by Jeff Robinson, lawyer for Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay

The judge refused to allow this testimony or this information into the courtroom. Why? For those who think the extreme fundamentalist angle is “thin”, please read this:

JEFF ROBINSON ( Lawyer representing defendants): I want to move to a different topic now.  Do you recall several days after the homicides being approached by and interviewing a man named Douglas Mohammed?


Q:        I can show you a report to help with the dates.  I’m going to show you this, which is a copy from Detective Gomes’ police reports.  July 18 is the date at the top of that page.  Is that right?

A:        Yes, it is.

Q:        And then if you turn to the next page, is there an indication that along about 2:45 in the afternoon you and

Q:        Detective Gomes interviewed Douglas Mohammed?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And Mr. Mohammed gave you an address and phone number to contact him, didn’t he?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that he was Egyptian?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that he was affiliated with some FBI agents?

A:        Yes.

Q:        He then described a concern he had about, that might relate to the Rafay homicides.  Is that right?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that there were different factions in the Muslim community?

A:        Yes.

Q:        Both in Seattle and in Vancouver, British Columbia?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that one of these factions was headed by a particular man, whose name and address he gave you.  Is that right?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that this man preached that those that did not accept his translation of the Koran should be killed?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you that this man’s interpretation of the Koran was an extremely violent one?

A:        Yes.

Q:        He told you that this man owned a gas station and he gave you the location of that gas station?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he told you about several other people that were in this man’s group let’s call it?

A:        Yes, he did.

Q:        And he told you that on the Friday after the homicides, one of these men that was in this group came to his house and appeared to be very nervous and frightened?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And he indicated that this man who was nervous and frightened was asking whether he, Mr. Mohammed, remembered a baseball bat that had been carried around by group members in a car.  Do you recall that?

A:        Can you give me a second just to read through this on the baseball bat issue?

Q:        Yes, absolutely.

A:        Yes, I do recall that.

Q:        And he was saying that he thought the baseball bat could have been the murder weapon?

A:        Yes.

Q:        On August 2,——

COURT:         Go over that again.  He told of this baseball bat being where?  I lost that.

A:        He had come to the police department and said there’s some people he knew that carried a, basically carried a baseball bat in their car.


Q:        And that the man who came to his house that was a member of the group we’ve described was nervous and frightened and was asking him, Mr. Mohammed, like hey, do you remember that baseball bat we were carrying around?

A:        Yes.

Q:        So a person in the group that Mr. Mohammed suspected might be involved in the homicides was asking Mr. Mohammed about a baseball bat?

A:        That’s correct.

Q:        And on August 2nd of 1994, on or about that date, do you recall applying for the return of search warrant to be sealed by a district court judge?

A:        I do recall having a search warrant sealed.

Q:        And it was after July 18, wasn’t it?

A:        I don’t remember.  Well, yes, counselor, it would be after July 18.

Q:        And one of the things you said in the request to seal that search warrant is that there was evidence that was outlined in the warrant return that only the investigating detectives or the killers would know?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And one of the things you placed into that category only the investigating detectives or the killers would know was the fact that the murder weapon might have been a baseball bat?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And Douglas Mohammed was talking about a baseball bat before that information had ever been released to anybody in the public.  Am I right?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And Mr. Mohammed went further and told you that this group leader had actually made a specific threatening statement about Mr. Tariq Rafay, didn’t he?

A:        Yes.

Q:        He said that this man had indicated that Tariq Rafay should be killed because of Mr. Tariq Rafay’s interpretation of the Koran?

A:        Yes.

Q:        Detective Gomes obviously prepared this report some time after July 18?

A:        Yes.

Q:        It was in your file when the RCMP came down in March and February of ’95?

A:        Yes.

Q:        And by the way, you did confirm that Douglas Mohammed was actually an informant for the FBI, didn’t you?

A:        Yes.


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About ken

I am a former Toronto teacher and writer now living in Vancouver. I work with Dr. Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, with whom I published Eye of the Hurricane: My path from Darkness to Freedom (Chicago review Press, 2011), as Director of Media Relations and as an advocate for wrongly convicted prisoners. Other publication credits include Songs of Aging Children (Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992) a book of short stories about troubled youth, and Taking Steam, a play co-authored with the late Brian Shein, staged at New York's Jewish Repertory Theatre and Toronto in 1983. Life Without (Quattro Books, 2012) is a novella about a New York cab driver wrongly convicted of killing his pregnant wife. Gary Geddes (Lt. Governor's Award for Literary Excellence) described it as "one of the most brilliant and harrowing short novels I've read since I went on a John Hawkes binge."

5 thoughts on “Pre-trial examination of Police Detective Bob Thompson by Jeff Robinson, lawyer for Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay

  1. Hi Ken,
    On the topic of the appeal status of both men, just wondering what is happening there? It says Sebastian Burns has exhausted all his appeals… does that mean that the appeal filed in October 2014 that is being undertaken now does not apply to him and only to Atif?
    I literally just have not been able to get this case out of my head. I watched the Confession Tapes episode and literally lost sleep over how long these innocent men have been in prison for something they did not do. I feel like I just need to know if either or both of them have any chance of being exonerated. I will for sure be writing to the King County Prosecutor and will also donate to The Innocence Project.

    • You are correct, Katie, inasmuch as Sebastian did not have the presence of mind, after many years in solitary confinement, to follow the same route that Atif is taking. Atif is trying to accumulate sufficient grounds for a successful habeas motion in federal court. Sebastian went straight to habeas after losing his first state appeal. He was turned down by the federal appeals court and the US Supreme Court on the issue of the Mr. Big sting. So they are in the odd position where Atif could be exonerated because of mistakes in the trial while Sebastian would remain in prison. But the odds are not in Atif’s favor to win on appeal. As in most wrongful convictions, new evidence is necessary to get the case back to court.

      • Okay, so say new evidence is brought in, then both of them have a chance of getting out?
        I’m just trying to wrap my head around the case and figure out what to write to the King County Prosecutor! I just can’t believe Sebastian was put in solitary confinement for 10 years… Both men deserve their freedom.

  2. This case has me absolutely pulling my hair out!! Correct me if i’m wrong, but as the looks of everything right now – there is likely no way these two men will get exonerated? I can’t believe the ignorance in the ruling of this case. It absolutely boggles my mind that people can be so apathetic of, in the beginning, two young KIDS who say something stupid to impress these intimidating men in there faces, promising to get rid of all their problems – even though there isn’t one SPECK of forensic evidence going against them. Ahhhh, my rage is so intense!!

    I feel the strong need to be apart of making this right, even though I know the courts stubbornness makes this hard. What are all the ways I can contribute to this cause? I would like to do as much as I can possibly can.

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