Why we believe in the innocence of Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns

SIX REASONS WHY WE BELIEVE THAT SEBASTIAN BURNS AND ATIF RAFAY ARE INNOCENT

REASON ONE: No hard or scientifically gathered evidence ties them to the crime.

A bludgeoning is an extremely bloody way to kill. It goes, almost without saying, that for one to bludgeon three different people to death and leave no trace of blood in the scalp or anywhere else on his face is unlikely. Showering would not be sufficient. They agreed to undergo forensic testing for five days without legal representation, because they thought their innocence would protect them. No one, neither prosecutors nor police, say they found hard evidence linking Burns and Rafay to the crime.

Lacking a solid case, they referred (and still do) to “a mountain of circumstantial evidence”, evidence that turns out to be negligible evidence, a molehill of evidence. Lacking a solid case, they turned to the RCMP:

REASON TWO: Their confessions to the RCMP mobsters took many months of heavy handed interviews to obtain. No juror was shown video evidence of Sebastian’s constant denials that he had anything to do with the crime, while the RCMP has disposed of almost the entire taped interrogation. What remains are the sessions that implicate Burns and Rafay.

The so-called confessions were manufactured from Sebastian Burns’s knowledge of the case gained in newspaper accounts available at the time.

REASON THREE: James Miyoshi, the chief witness against them, was threatened with being charged as an accessory, a crime punishable by life in prison, making his testimony less than reliable. What he said was always vague and sometimes even fanciful. Reliance upon such testimony is a sign of a faulty case, but they thought they needed it to seal the deal. In truth, Miyoshi tried to protect himself from prison while not betraying his friends. This proved to be an impossibility.

REASON FOUR: The RCMP never looked to any other suspects, despite being told by sources that a hit was being planned against a Pakistani family newly moved to Bellevue, WA. Nor were leads followed after the killings that may have implicated an extremist religious group, despite the Bellevue police having a factually reliable tip from a confirmed FBI informant. In that Sebastian and Atif were the only suspects investigated, the Burns/Rafay case may well be a classic example of ‘tunnel vision’.

REASON FIVE: THE WEAKNESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE:

  1. Atif and Sebastian loved the work of philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. The prosecutors equated Nietzsche’s work with Adolph Hitler, and utilized the very loose connection to indicate that Sebastian and Atif believed that they were superior beings, entitled to eliminate anyone who got in their way. That fact that Nietzsche was perhaps the most influential philosopher of the 19th and 20th centuries was lost on the jury. Hitler did admire the German philosopher but the philosopher never expressed a belief in genocide, nor did the defendants.
  1. The actual motive given for the crime was greed. Atif would inherit money from his father’s estate that could be used to make a film. Does that sound like motivation to bludgeon a family to death, or did Atif and Sebastian create this motive to satisfy the RCMP gangsters who made them fear for their lives? Why would they choose to kill the Rafays? The Burns’s had more money by far and there was no death penalty in Canada.
  1. Burns appeared in a school play, “The Rope” where the eponymous murder weapon was changed into a baseball bat. This is a stark coincidence but hardly proof of murder since it presupposes that a killer would advertise his method beforehand.
  1. The crime scene was made to appear like a burglary had occurred. Somehow this was attributed to the two teens, as if other killers could not have thought of the same idea. Were the murders done by others seeking revenge against Tariq Rafay, they might also want to make the scene appear like a burglary.
  1. Sebastian Burns’s hair was found in the shower, mixed with the Rafay’s blood. This is the most quoted piece of evidence. Burns was living in that house for several days and using that shower. Do adolescents consistently clean up after themselves?
  1. Blood was found on the bottom of Atif’s pants. Atif and Sebastian entered the bloody crime scene and walked from room to room. Why wouldn’t the cuffs have blood on them? Why would blood be nowhere else?
  1. News reports then and since have referred to Atif and Sebastian fleeing to Canada to evade investigation. This is the most scurrilous of all the accusations against them. Sebastian lived in West Vancouver; Atif’s family had been annihilated. Where would they go but Canada since Atif was a citizen? The truth is that they were allowed to leave because there was no credible evidence against them. The RCMP sting (Mr. Big) was used against them to elicit confessions, but the use of the sting, according to current rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada, should not have been used in the absence of hard evidence. No such safeguards existed at that time.

So called evidence from the sting should not have been allowed into a US courtroom but the judge was prejudiced against the defendants. Mr. Big violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the Fourteenth Amendment against illegal search and seizure.

MIRANDA rights, i.e. the right to remain silent and to know that what you say may be used against you in a court of law; the right to have a lawyer present during questioning; the right to select questions you want to answer; were not accorded them. Why not? Because the evidence was gathered in Canada. To permit this evidence at trial was the result of a mistaken interpretation of the law and of Miranda protections

REASON SIX: The most significant evidence in the case pointed to their innocence and was explained away.

Fact: Atif and Sebastian were seen at a showing of The Lion King at the time of the murder—minutes before 10 p.m. Neighbours on both sides heard the thumps from the bludgeoning at 9:50 that night (twilight).

How can they have been in two places at once? How do you attack an airtight alibi? Somehow, it was averred, they left the theater by the side door and raced back to commit the murders. Even if this unlikely story was hatched under duress by Sebastian himself, it doesn’t make sense in the time context. So the prosecutor obfuscated the time by calling the neighbours’ recollections into question.

In light of what appears to us a manufactured case against Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns, it is legitimate to doubt the result of the trial and the verdict of the appeal court.

 

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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."

197 thoughts on “Why we believe in the innocence of Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns

  1. Well said.

    I would say from my studies of this case that the evidence is overwhelming that they are innocent.

    The police and prosecutors and media MUST stop assuming that a relative is the likely perpetrator. Tunnel vision by conviction hungry law enforcement is too often the result.

    • There were so many unanswered questions about who could have murdered the Rafay family, such a sad story. One of my questions is why did the family move to Bellevue, Washington? Did they obtain better jobs? Why would they move away from their only son to another country? I think they could have been harassed to the point of leaving, especially being murdered so soon after they moved. Just a thought. My opinion is that the confessions of the crimes by Burns and Rafay, may have come from fear of threats, but more likely to fit in with these gangsters (undercover agents).

      • Your last point, fear or fitting in, should not be mutually exclusive. The fear caused Sebastian to want to fit in; otherwise he would not have been “solid” and he justifiably believed that he and his family might have been subjected to retaliation.
        The Rafays moved to Washington because Tariq got a better job (supposedly). But you may be right about them having been harassed. They were, but I don’t know how that played into their motivation to move. It’s a worthwhile speculation. They did not move away from Atif; he was a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
        Many possibilities unexplored in this case.

  2. I do not believe for a second they are innocent. Absolutely no other theory fits the crime. Their ‘alibis’ were staged, and you ignore the innumerable signs of guilt they exhibited. Sebastian Burns is also clearly a sociopath. You are barking up the wrong tree defending these two, and it’s very bad for your credibility.

    • “Absolutely no other theory fits the crime.” It is when people like Roger deliver “absolutes” that we lose the possibility of reason. No other theory THAT HE CAN THINK OF fits the crime. “Clearly a sociopath”. Once again, where is the reasoning? “very bad for your credibility”. My credibility is of no importance compared to the suffering of Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay. I can handle it. Roger’s credibility should be based on his knowledge and handling of facts, not his unsupported statements.

      • I completely agree with you. This is insane to think these boys committed this crime.

        Do you people even understand how sick and twisted fundamentalist ideology IS? HAVE YOU EVER ACTUALLY READ THE QUR’AN?!? This has made many open, intelligent people outraged at the US for letting this happen. If you can’t understand why someone would kill for the Muslim faith, you obviously know nothing about their religion. Educate yourselves.

        • I would generally not approve of such a statement, nor do I now, but it is important to answer Conrad in the context of present-day hatred of Muslims. Personally, I do not believe the Koran is any more or less violent than the Old Testament. It is recommended somewhere (is it Leviticus?) that wayward youth should be taken to the city gates and stoned to death. The Koran has similar injunctions but the modern day practice of Islam has little to do with that aspect of the religion.
          However, there are extremists living everywhere in this world of 7 plus billion people. They justify their violence with appeals to ‘fundamentalist’ religion, be they Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and even Buddhists (look what’s happening in Myanmar!).

          • Not to take away from the point here, but where are the radical Christians killing innocent people? You never see It, it’s ALWAYS in the name of Islam. And don’t try to spin It, Islam is Islam. The Rafay family was killed my Muslim extremists and the boys are clearly innocent.

          • Um, what? Where are the radical Christians killing innocent people? Does Nate not know what a burning cross symbolizes? What about the Inquisition? What about the Christians who destroyed native civilizations around the world in the name of the Christian religion? No religion has a monopoly on hate.

        • Yep you are 100% correct.
          To me, they were obviously innocent and it was clear how the investigators had refused to follow up on the other significan leads (like Muslim extremists).

          • “Does Nate not know what a burning cross symbolizes? What about the Inquisition? What about the Christians who destroyed native civilizations around the world in the name of the Christian religion? No religion has a monopoly on hate.”

            You have to be kidding, Ken. The Inquisition? Christian conquistadors? You are citing 700 year old examples of Christian “hate” to draw an equivalence between Islamist extremism and other forms of religious extremism in 2017? (or 1994?)

            Not only is your false moral equivalence intellectually dishonest, it undermines this case’s own (completely plausible) alternative explanation for what happened – the Rafay family was savagely beaten to death by Islamist fanatics because they were “heretics.” Islamist fanatics engage in this kind of behavior with regularity in 2017. Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist fanatics do not.

            Obviously, most Muslims do not engage in violent behavior. I am simply pointing out the absurdity of your attempt to place all of modern religion’s extreme behavior into the same category. At this time, Islam has a unique problem with violent and fanatical behavior among the world’s major religions. To deny that is to deny reality.

          • While I don’t want this site to devolve into a religious forum, I would admit that most of the incidents we hear about are the result of extremist Islamists. And I do feel that the Rafay case may well fit into this category. But I hold that religious extremists of all stripes are operating in today’s world. What did anyone know about the Rohingya Muslims until the evidence of ethnic cleansing by Myanmar’s Buddhists? How long had this hatred been manifest in that country? Who would have thought that the Ku Klux Klan would make a comeback into American civic life? The Klan is a so-called Christian organization, still burning crosses the last time I looked.
            My point is that religious extremism is everywhere, both in history and now, and its effects are often deadly. If that makes me ‘intellectually dishonest’, I can accept the criticism.

      • I just watch the Netflix series and to say I am gutted would be an understatement. I feel so incredibly sick after watching that, knowing how one sided it was and how those two boys were wrongly convicted. Get them out of jail already!

        • Just finished watching the Netflix episodes too. Even IF these two are guilty, it needs to be actually proven otherwise, they should clearly be exonerated. How did it take months to get a confession? If Burns is such a “sociopath” why did it takes him months to finally give an incredibly vague confession where every sentence trailed off and ended with “or whatever.”

          I went to this site: http://rafayburnsappeal.com/ and saw their suggestions for help, one of which is to write to the King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. He has almost NO Twitter followers, so I bet if people tweet like crazy at him, he’ll have to address it one way or another, publicly or privately. Bad publicity moves people, as we can see with this case.

          In other words, tweet at Dan Satterberg! Cause why not?! TH: @DanSatterberg

          • Thanks for Twitter account I will use it but bad prosecutors live in delusion. They decide who is guilty and ignore anything that does not support it. Good ones look into other possibilities if only to exclude them. Good judges allow the defence to introduce alternative theories if they are credible. An informant backed by the FBI is credible for one example.
            I have not read fully about Ken’s project I imagine and hope he works with top lawyers
            Thanks again

          • They do delude themselves but they are also susceptible to prying outside eyes, the more the better. This documentary, at the very least, may force them to come out and start justifying their tactics and their case yet again. The difference will be that people are less likely to swallow either their self-deception or their untruths. In other words, the case may well get to see the light of day.

        • Oh God oh God, I have just finished the Netflix – very slick – and kept thinking it was like a documentary that was going to end Ok, that I was watching what actually I remember reading about at the time, and seeing Burns’ father speaking, I looked at how long the programme had to run and waited for an update on where they were living and what the two had done with their lives to find those tapes were believed, the sentences stood, they had no chances left. Words don’t cover it. What a stitch up. Speechless. Jury???? What can you say? INNOCENT they were not proved guilty. Without that stitch up there is nothing.

      • I have only just learnt about this case and I am immensely intrigued by it. The police used unorthadox methods to gain the confessions, and it does appear from the footage that Sebastian is lying. However, there was never a possibility that they may have hired someone to commit the crime, hence the lack of forensic evidence against the pair. I find it odd that David Burns told his son to use pay phones due to police tapping their phones. Why use payphones if you are 100% guilt-free? It is also odd how Atif was more concerned about his walkman being missing and how Sebastian never mentioned murder when he rang 911. There is a possiblity that they never committed the crimes but their behaviour after the murders is very concerning, the lack of empathy. They should be free since there is no direct evidence linking them to the crime except circumstantial, which is not a valid base for a court case. But what I would like to end on is this; if Sebastian was staying with the Rafay family, why was there no DNA evidence of his in the house?

        • Hello Leighann,
          To begin at the end, yes there was DNA evidence at the house, Sebastian (hair, fo example), and the whole Rafay family. But there was also DNA evidence from outside.
          With Sebastian using pay phones and so forth, would you want to get on the phone if you thought the police were spying on every word you said? The police will be happy to extract an odd phrase that is not linked to any crime but can be used against you.
          I have tried to urge people not to judge their behavior after the crime took place; there is no way of knowing how someone might react to witnessing such a thing, maybe that the world has been pulled out from under your feet, like an earthquake. The appeal court in Washington erred grievously by using their surface behavior when talking to the RCMP gangsters as an indication of their guilt. It’s a disgusting ruling that only shows the weaknesses of the appeal system.
          Finally, the Walkman and the VCR. If you were facing such a thing (God forbid!) what would you focus on? Your dead family mashed up or a piece of irrelevant audio equipment? It’s a question but the answer to it depends on your ability to absorb true life horror. Soldiers will do the same thing.

    • Wow ignorance is exactly what put these boys away, were a member of rhe jury, i suggest yiu watch the Netflix documentary a severe case of malpractice. I for one hope that both convictions are overturned, and the real criminals behind this senseless act are caught, and convicted to life imprisonment

    • I agree…I have seen Making a Murder and that case to me is hands-down a set-up. But in this case Burns reads very much like a sociopath, I really wanted to see them as “innocent” because their family/friends are so convinced but in reality that means nothing. Rafay doesn’t even mention his sister in his “heartfelt” plea for them to be recognized as innocent at the end of the trial. If I cared as much for my parents as Rafay says in that moment, I wouldn’t have been gleefully running away and giggling at reporters. I see why the RCMP Mr Big method is not something that should be used in that situation and yet the confessions were too lax, the only reason for them eventually admitting to me is that they felt they could trust the “businessmen” at that point. I find it disturbing that it could have been done by extremists that hated Rafay’s family but unfortuntely we may never know. It’s sad but the behavior of Burns and Rafay is what really bothers me. Plus everyone is so up in arms about them being seen at the movie theatre…but that is also only hear-say- not hard evidence unless they have video footage of it. Even so- how far away was the theatre? In the tape-recordings of the neighbors they both say about 9:30 was when the murders’ took place. It’s cutting it close- but possible that two young men could get away and to that theatre within that time if done commiting the murders.

      • Are you serious ? “If I cared for my parents as Arafat says he didn’t I wouldn’t have run away gleefully from reporters” Excepte that’s is YOU and also you were not in his shoes at that moment and I’m hoping you have never been wrongfully accused of murdering your family so really YOU have no idea how you would behave. The fact that most people look at this case and think ‘well I wouldn’t do that’ regardless of the fact that they have no ducking idea what they are talking about because they have never been in that situation is why these poor boys are in jail. I think the way they acted makes them seem even more innocent. How could they have staged their alibis and then not have a plan for how to act with the media, how the fuck does that make any sense to anyone ? We need to stop judging people based on your own personal convictions. This whole Hing is such a farce, it angers me so much.

      • I’m reminded of the rape case out of Washington state a few years back. A girl reported a rape, but her attitude was “weird.” She seemed relaxed and was able to clearly give police details without showing any emotion. She didn’t seem rattled or hysterical, and due to her behavior , no one ended up believing her and she even got charged with falsifying a police report. She actually paid the fine to police and just went along with her charge..I guess she felt like she had just given up. They found the guy in Colorado with a picture of the girl’s photo ID, proving she had been raped and exonerating her from her other charges. The point is, people react to trauma in very weird ways. Having never experienced extreme trauma, i like to assume I’d be horrified , dramatic, and in tears..but who really knows. Atif’s sister was autistic and he came from a highly intellectual family , so maybe he also had his own issues processing and dealing with human emotions. Maybe that’s where the laughter and other inappropriateness stems from.

        • The case of Amanda Knox comes to mind. Her wrongful conviction took place in Italy. She and her boyfriend seemed unconcerned about the murder of Meredith Kercher and were subsequently the victim of character assassination. She was convicted of murder but the conviction was thrown out by the Supreme Court of Italy for lack of any concrete evidence. The US government made some effort to support her.

      • They were not being tried on their ability to act as you expect people in the middle of a traumatic episode to act from watching TV or wherever you get your information in trauma and grief. Stage one of grief: denial. What they were being tried on whether they murdered three people. If you want to see ‘trial by personality’, watch a reality show. You probably believe those stories aren’t full of omissions in the editing too.

        • Mave Dave,
          Of course I wish they had been tried on the murder, but they weren’t. They were convicted, without hard evidence, of a vicious, bloody murder. They were convicted for being who they were and not for what they did. Even a cursory look at the media coverage prompted by police, the use of the RCMP and the use of guilt by association would tell you that they were targets, rather than suspects. Documents clearly show that the RCMP were not investigating them but, from the very start, were only trying to get them to confess. Everyone ‘knew’ that they must be guilty.

  3. REASON ONE: You state that showering would not be sufficient to remove blood from the scalp and body but do you really know that for certain?

    REASON TWO: When Haslett asks ” Did any of them fight?”, Sebastien prefaces his answer by saying “Well, that’s a story that has yet to be told…”. He’s very convincing in making it sound like he’s not simply regurgitating media accounts of the crime but rather giving a first hand account of what happened. It’s a shame he never got to act in a movie. He might have won an academy award. The falseness of most false confessions is easy to detect…often painfully obvious. If these confessions are false, they’re the most convincing false confessions ever videotaped.

    • Wording is important. I said it was “unlikely” that showering would remove all traces of blood. No, I can’t be 100% certain but never said I was.
      As to false confessions, they take many forms. I can only say that, after ten years of researching them, it’s possible that I know more than you do on this subject. They can be quite convincing, especially if the suspect has a compelling reason to make them so. In this case, both Burns and Rafay feared for their lives.

        • In the previous sentence to the one you quote, I used the word “unlikely” with respect to eliminating any trace of blood from the face or scalp. The sentence after, that you quote, refers back to the previous sentence. I might have done a better job in clarifying that.

  4. As for the weakness of the circumstantial evidence:

    1. The prosecution never said that Nietzsche was a genocidal Nazi. They made the point that, like all authors, his writings are open to interpretation and that Atif and Sebastien interpreted some of these writings in an sinister way. Millions of people read Catcher in the Rye without subsequently shooting a President or killing a pop star but a couple of people did. Same idea here. I don’t think that this is strong circumstantial evidence and there’s nothing to say that the jury attributed much weight to it. At the same time, I don’t think it was wrong for the prosecution to reveal Atif and Sebastien’s affinity for the “superman theory” as a way to illustrate their belief in themselves as superior beings who are above the law.

    • Leonard,
      “There’s nothing to say that the jury attributed much weight to it.” There’s nothing to say either way as you and I were not on the jury. If I had been on the jury, I might have been taken in by the prosecutor’s association of Nietzsche with genocidal ideas (this is in the trial transcript) although I can now see it as a gross manipulation. There is a great distance between subscribing to a theory that some people are superior to others, as obnoxious as that might be, to murdering those who are inferior.

  5. circumstantial evidence:
    2. You ask why the boys would choose to kill the Rafay family as opposed to the wealthier Burns family. One reason could be that Sebastien was close to his family and therefore never put the idea of killing them on the table for himself and Atif to consider. Atif wasn’t as close to his family. He looked upon his parents devout religious beliefs with disdain and was estranged from his sister because of her disability. A second reason could be that Basma’s disability made the Rafay family an easier target. You also ask why they would choose to commit murder in Washington where there is the death penalty as opposed to Canada where there is not. This question assumes that the death penalty acts as a deterrent. Do you believe that?

    • If they were so cold and calculating, the death penalty would be a deterrent. No, I don’t believe in general that the death penalty is a deterrent.
      The Rafay family had very little money aside from an insurance policy. The house was heavily mortgaged as they had moved there recently. The Burns family was wealthy by those standards.
      Many kids have disdain for their parents’ religious beliefs. It’s simply not credible as a motive for murder, as the media and the prosecution (and you) tried to suggest.
      Finally, I do not believe that Sebastian was any closer to his family than Atif was to his. I believe that Atif had a close relationship with his mother and, like many late teens, a more distant attitude toward his father. You are making a series of assumptions here that do not hold up when you are actually familiar with the people involved, as I am. As to his sister, maybe Atif was estranged from her. The people who targeted the Rafays must have known about her too. That’s why they didn’t attempt the killing when Sebastian and Atif were in the house. So I agree that they were easier targets in that respect.

  6. circumstantial evidence:

    3. I’d have no difficulty accepting similarities between “Rope” and the murders as a stark coincidence if it was the only stark coincidence but it’s not. After wrecking the family car, Sebastien attempted to extricate himself using theater alibi. Later, at the precise time the Rafays were being murdered, of all the places in the world he could possibly have been, where was he? He was in a theater…again. I mean, honestly, what are the odds of two such astonishing coincidences befalling one person? Probably about the same odds as one person twice winning the grand prize lottery jackpot. Probably about the same odds as one person being struck by lightening on two separate occasions. If Sebastien Burns is innocent, he’s got to be the most unlucky fella ever to walk the face of the earth. Here’s the point I really want to make: It’s very easy to take any one piece of circumstantial evidence in this case and look at it in isolation and conclude that it’s coincidental or indefinitive or both. However, when you take all the pieces of circumstantial evidence and line them up beside each other and look at them collectively and connect the dots, the whole exceeds the sum of the parts. This, of course, is nothing more than my humble opinion.

    • The theater coincidence is not as unlikely as you say. They were seen in that movie theater on the night of the killing. Moreover, adolescents lying about family car accidents is unsurprising. In the past, young people spent lots of time in movie theaters. Why wouldn’t that come to mind? The circumstantial evidence in this case does not line up as you say, unless you have a need for closure. We all deceive ourselves in pursuit of a winning argument. The more powerful arguments, I believe, are the absence of forensic evidence and the coercion of the confessions.

      • Sorry, but, in addition to this “coincidence”, does nobody think that it seems a bit odd that these two went to the lion king of all movies?of course it is just a detail on which you can’t decide on guilt or not, but that made me think of this alibi as likely staged.

        • Yes, good point, Sofie. Everyone who saw The Lion King is a criminal, myself included. It’s about myth and not exclusively a child’s film.

  7. circumstantial evidence:
    4.I agree with you here as far as you go which ain’t too far. Yes, perpetrators other than Atif and Sebastien could have staged the crime scene to make it look like a burglary. Let’s go with that. Let’s assume the perps were persons not known to the Rafays…strangers. Isn’t likely these strangers would have left signs of forced entry?If Sultana was anything like my wife, she would have had the doors locked especially given that she had just moved to a new neighborhood. Okay….maybe she forgot to lock the doors. If a stranger entered the residence through an unlocked door with a baseball bat, isn’t likely Sultana would have been alarmed?That she would have screamed? That she would have suffered defensive wounds trying to ward off her attacker? That her screams would have awakened Tariq? That he also would have suffered defensive wounds? Sultana and Tariq both died without ever knowing what hit them. Neither one sustained any defensive wounds. Sultana was never aware that a stranger was in her house. These strangers must have been real stealthy. And real good lock pickers too. Maybe these strangers had keys. Maybe these strangers looked exactly like Atif Rafay and his good buddy Sebastien Burns.

    • Interesting discussion here with someone who appears reasonable. I appreciate that. Sultana was probably not like your wife, especially since she had lived in Canada for an extended period. Back in those days, Canadians (and I know this from many years in Toronto) were just as apt to leave their doors unlocked as they were to lock them. It may have been by habit that she didn’t keep the doors locked.
      We don’t know about screams. We do know that the neighbors heard thumping sounds at the time the boys were at the movie theater. Since Sultana may have been surprised, she might not have been able to scream but to look with horror and panic at her attacker. In nightmares, we sometimes try to scream but cannot. I would say that this killing was nightmarish. Tariq Rafay was in bed when he was attacked and would likely have been asleep. I think your argument here is thin.

  8. You’ll notice that I didn’t comment on some of the points in your blog. That’s because I agree with them. I completely agree with you, for example, that they did not “flee” to Canada. They were well within their rights to return to Canada and probably should have done so sooner.
    This is a fascinating case. There’s just so much in this one. As you can tell, it’s gotten under my skin a little bit. I’ve enjoyed discussing it with you.
    Has the appeal process in this case been exhausted? I think it would be a good thing if they were granted a new trial regardless of the outcome.

    • Atif has appealed on every level and is still pursuing the final stage of a personal restraint petition (PRP). He is trying to make a thorough case for his habeas hearings by exploring (and exploiting) all possible grounds for a federal appeal.
      Sebastian went straight to habeas (federal court) after losing his initial set of state appeals.
      The process has not been exhausted but it is an ordeal. Still, Atif is upbeat and feeling well supported from the outside. Attorneys are now working on his case as are others. Frankly, he is remarkably strong in the face of continued unjust incarceration.

  9. I am troubled by the fact that Atif did not attend the funeral of his family, but instead was on a bus back to Canada. Couldn’t he have waited 1 day or so and been at the funeral? Another thing, it seems totally unbelievable that he would notice his walkman and VCR missing in all that carnage. Plus, they very quickly stopped cooperating with the police. They both come across as very arrogant and pompous and uncaring about the brutal murders. Atif didn’t even go in to try and help his sister who was moaning and dying. He admitted as much on tape. And Sebastian’s family members all come across as arrogant and in denial which is often typical of family members. Nothing about these young men screams innocent. And I’m sure there is a lot more evidence that we just don’t know about — whether it’s not presented in the media, or to the jury.

    • The funny thing here is that I agree with Lori on some of the points she made. Troubling, yes. The behaviour of eighteen year olds, yes. I would ask you, as I have countless times of others: How would you behave after finding your entire family bludgeoned to death? If you thought the killer(s) was still in the house, would you help your brother or sisterA? Maybe, maybe not. Some people are more courageous than others. The point is you don’t know unless you have to face it and I sincerely hope you never do. You can’t answer that and neither can I. There is no behavioural manual for those who face atrocity. The VCR issue could well have been a way of avoiding the absolute horror of what had occurred; that’s what I think and I know Atif well.
      The family memorial took place in Vancouver and the two of them behaved badly. Atif had no connection of any sort with his extended family. But had the both of them been cunning and calculating they would undoubtedly have behaved in a solemn and hypocritical manner.
      You think people should cooperate with police? If you’re a suspect? You need a lawyer, right? They didn’t even calculate enough to protect themselves because they knew they were innocent and thought they had nothing to worry about. That is the mistake many people, young and old, make by talking to police. I hope you don’t do anything like that, Lori, because it would be a mistake. The police talk to you because you are a suspect. It wasn’t until Mr. Burns got them a lawyer that they stopped talking to police.
      “I am sure there is a lot more evidence…” Believe me, there isn’t. And the evidence you mention here is not evidence that they committed a murder. And nothing forensic has ever surfaced that ties them to this murder.

      • Sebastian said they would stay outside cause it could be dangerous inside. However, when the cops arrived they were sat down in front of the house. How is that dangerous?

        • Hi Anna,
          Not sure that you said what you wanted to say here, but they sat outside the house because they didn’t know if the killer(s) was still inside.

    • Agreed. Burns and Rafay are guilty. Burns committed the murder during the movie… With a baseball bat. Burns appeared arrogant, money grubbing, and with every sense of lack of remorse. The motive was money. The court system did abide by Canadian law by obtaining information within legal guidelines within their country. Fake tears and all. They were convicted by their own words. When they both confessed on tape, everything that the US federal agents couldn’t decipher made so much more sense. Guilty.

      • I can respect Jane’s opinion and will let it stand on its own (not argue with its premises) because it provides an object lesson in the debate on capital punishment. The only thing that is 100% certain in this case is that the Rafays were murdered. We all know that, just as we know the twin towers were toppled. Anything after that is speculation or, as I say, opinion. Unless Jane is the voice of an omniscient God, then she is pretending to deny uncertainty, the human condition.
        Rubin Carter used to say–and I agree with him–that capital punishment is ‘the perfect punishment–an eye for an eye–in a world of imperfect people.’ Jane’s is the attitude brought on, to some extent, by social media–and this forum is social media. One can say what one believes without solid evidence. “The motive was money.” “Burns committed the murder during the movie.” and so forth. These are categorical statements and reflect the attitude of those who are comfortable with the death penalty. And when they find out the defendant is innocent they say that “the possibility that executed people might have been innocent is ‘the price we have to pay’ for justice.” But juries are not infallible and neither are judges or federal agents.

    • Atif was never informed of the funeral, as a matter of fact he never even knew his relatives were in Bellevue. Despite the police contacting his relatives at his request, Atif was informed no such action had taken place. They flat out lied to him. He found out the truth via TV news when he arrived in Canada

  10. Ken, is there on record any similar cases of possible violence perpetrated by “Muslim Fundamentalists” in the US or Canada ? That is, personal home invasions/murder of entire families ? What is the history ?

    Does the Innocence Project do any research on the leads the police neglected or are you solely focussed on the plight of the convicted ?

    I ask this because I have as much trouble, or even more, imagining Muslim fundamentalists as the killers as I do Sebastian and Atif. If the kind of grievances this group supposedly had towards Mr Rafay led to the brutal murder of an entire family, one would think it would hardly be a one-off case. Also a very risky way to commit it instead of targeting Mr Rafay on his own. But I don’t know, maybe there are other circumstances and I have just not heard of them. (and I’m not talking about honour killings)

    In terms of motive, why does insurance money necessarily have to enter into it ? Sebastian may have been exercising a fantasy; the Rafays were convenient and so was their son. There are so many precedents and documentation of the psychology of murdering pairs.

    Finally, I must question your statement that you “know Atif very well”. Firstly, he is a man behind bars who needs friends and help – this is not a symbiotic, free-flowing situation.
    Many killers are kind, intelligent, creative people who are surrounded by friends and family that adore them. Take Dylan Klebold, for example, and the secret life he hid from everyone. Mind blowing !

    • Hi Allyson,
      Your response is well thought out and welcome. To the best of my ability, I can answer some of these questions.
      First, I will say that no two crimes are identical (home invasions and the like) but that we were basing our speculation on the ‘modus operandi’. According to documents and the original police investigations, Mrs. Rafay received threatening phone calls beforehand; two suspects in that community were identified but not investigated; Mr. Rafay, the president of a Canadian-Pakistani friendship organization was involved in work that called the placement of Canadian mosques into question; articles appeared in local ‘in house’ papers on the apostasy of people who held this view; that a friend of Mr. Rafay’s who was the next head of the Canadian-Pakistani friendship organization was shot dead in front of his house just before Sebastian and Atif’s trial in 2003; that a witness, an RCMP informant in Canada, warned of a potential hit on a Pakistani family that had moved to Bellevue, Washington from West Vancouver; that an FBI informant gave vital information to the Bellevue police as to the murder weapon and the individuals involved in the killing…this goes on but you get the idea that we didn’t just pick the motivation out of a hat. Still, it’s the cumulative effect and nothing definite that led to the theory.
      As to insurance money, that was the motive used in the trial against the defendants. Now this may have been suggested by Sebastian Burns during the months long sting by the RCMP but they did not hesitate to use it because no other motive existed. Sebastian might have said this because he had to satisfy the RCMP gangsters that he was ‘solid’.
      Finally, after 10 years I think I do know Atif very well. While you’d be right that no one could know that the Columbine killers would commit a crime like that, I’d say that if I knew Dylan Klebold for ten years, his instability might have jumped out at me at some point in the relationship. Atif is not a perfect being, but he is incapable of plotting a murder, just as I would safely say that about my own brother.

      • Thanks for your reply and for the info. Very interesting about the person targeted in BC.
        And I’m sure the Klebold family, despite being aware of their son’s emotional turbulence and tendency to problem solve, would have never thought him capable of murder either, almost two years in the making. Nor his friends.
        Anyway, I’m not trying to draw parallels between Klebold and Atif, but only wonder at the capacity of the human being to deceive, conceal and compartmentalize using religion, the military, intellectualism, power …

        • True. You never know anyone for certain, not even yourself, in the sense that you don’t know what you’re capable of doing in a particular situation. For good or ill.

          • Yes, especially when they are out of the original context (in this case, the duo dynamic).
            Researchers agree that Klebold would have not acted on his own.
            So when we contemplate of what Atif is capable, the answer may be different depending on the situation. I’m sure you’ve thought that over, however…

          • Reminds me of the film about Rumsfeld (or MacNamara?): “There are the unknown unknowns.” We have science and probability that work to some extent in the law. We also must admit to the possibility that we are wrong. And yet there are very few cases of wrongly convicted people being found to have committed the crime for which they were convicted because the standard for exoneration is so extremely high. There are people who have been exonerated and gone on to commit crimes, mainly because of their experiences in jail. Innocence projects try to stay away from people who show that negative potential because the reputation of the project would be significantly damaged or permanently destroyed.

      • I think the idea that Mrs. Rafay received threatening phone calls before the murders hurts you more than it helps you. Those phone calls would have made her keep the doors to the house locked especially at night but there were no signs of forced entry at the crime scene which points the finger of guilt to Atif and Sebastien since they had keys.

        • I think you’re making too many assumptions here. You might be right, but there are too many variables in most crimes, especially this one, to write with certainty about ‘the finger of guilt.’ “Why was there no forced entry?” is a legitimate question but the conclusion–that Atif and Sebastian had the keys–leaves out more than a dozen other possible scenarios. The simplest I can think of is forgetting to do something when force of habit takes over. Or thinking you’ve done something when you really haven’t. Or perhaps someone let them in or opened the door to speak to them?
          Something happened, unquestionably. The Rafay family, minus Atif, was savagely murdered. We know that. And the truth is that it was done in a particular way that we might never fully know. We do know that there were threats.

          • I do still think that the killer may not have been a total stranger. If it was someone from the Pakistani community , they may have even gone out of their way to be friendly with the family so the family would have no alarm or suspicious to let them into their home.

  11. Coincidentally, that Rumsfeld clip was used on a recent episode of The Current that featured an interview with a scientist-author who just wrote a book about our conception of “knowledge”. Perhaps you heard it too- is that what sparked your recollection ?
    I found it very interesting …

  12. I’m not even sure what the question is regarding the guilt of Burns and Rafay. I have been fascinated with this case from the beginning and just watched Dateline and Mr. Big. Burns tells the story with such a cavalier attitude, with Rafay laughing at the recollection of his sister as she was walking around waiting to die, there is no doubt in my mind. Those who believe the guys are innocent haven’t logically assessed the evidence.

    • Georgie,
      “Cavalier attitude” does not indicate the use of logic. “No doubt in my mind” does not appeal to logic either. We’ve tried to stay logical while admitting the difficulties of the case. One of the segments about a series of wrongful convictions on Netflix, coming out this summer, will, I believe, examine the case dispassionately.

    • Plus to not have helped herC he not even mentions her in his speech at court. Taking by what he said there only his parents were killed.

      • I find that aspect of Atif’s behavior troubling. His character at the time revealed a dislike for his sister. It was hard for Rubin Carter and I to warm to him, knowing about this. But we had to acknowledge the imperfections of character in our clients. You have to know that sometimes the innocent defendant can be the author of his or her own misfortune. (Rubin himself had a huge chip on his shoulder that caused the police to hate him.) As you say, even after sentencing, Atif couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge her. But that doesn’t make him a murderer; if we thought so, we never would have represented him. Both men are flawed but innocent of the crime for which they were convicted. We are all flawed, no?

  13. What gets me about the Mr big videotaped segments that I’ve seen (and I am aware that the public has viewed but a fraction of the Mr big recordings) is as a prior poster mentioned, the details of, and the demeanor with which the two recounted the “Story that has not been told before” concerning Rafay’s sister. Once Sebastian burns says that, rafay giggles – he knows what’s coming – he knows this story burns is going to tell. So is that A detail the two boys would have come up with prior to meeting with mr big that day merely to please Mr. Big – to merely appease this big boss out of fear – NO WAY. Rafay giggles because his sister , walking around aimlessly and confounded required some
    Extra BAT WORK – !!!?? And as the poster above said, the way he SAID it — there is no way in hell that that didn’t happen — Hallmark of truth. That’s what happened. Now Legally the confessions should never have come in and I believe The convictions should be overturned. But I do believe they are guilty. An then there’s that other pesky fact – renting videotapes the night of the murder at the hotel. If innocent, those two boys might have tried to get some alcohol, that I would accept,’or even some benzos to calm their nerves, but actually going to the store to rent videotapes. It’s not real evidence, not at all – but it does speak volumes as it is precisely what two remorseless murdering teens would do that night – one of those videos was a chevy chase movie, don’t forget. Come on! Last point – the two vs three killers theory based on the spattered pillow that was moved – could the third person evidenced by the lack of spatter be the sister who was “walking around”. Maybe, as her dad was being blugeoned in his bed, she grabbed the pillow to shield herself from the spatter during burns attack and stood in that area where no spatter is evident. Just a thought knowing the little I know from media and other online facts.

    • I have no problem with your ability to make conclusions; that’s probably the way the jury saw it. The strange thing about this case is that each piece of circumstantial ‘evidence’ is subject to pro or con interpretations. I do believe that the interpretations depend upon what you bring to the table beforehand. They are ‘prejudiced’ in the mild form of the word.
      It’s harder when one deals with forensic evidence. There’s less room for individual interpretation, although it still comes into play. The lack of forensics is more troubling to me.

      • Yes, people will want to measure someone else’s response by “what would I do”… this is an impossible game. What strikes me more is the choice of movie before the murders. The Lion King is a pretty odd choice for these two deep thinkers.

        On the same note – I’ve also wondered why the police and prosecutors wanted or needed to solve the Rafay murders so desperately. A Muslim family, recent arrivals from Canada – not exactly the “young white woman” kind of case that captures the attention of the press and the public. If the murders had gone cold, would there be the same kind of pressure ? I can’t imagine it…
        Ken, do you have any thoughts on why this became so important to solve ? It’s not like James Konat was a young upstart at that point.

        • I saw the Lion King when it came out too and I was in my late thirties. While the film was appealing to children, it was deep enough for adults to enjoy. That’s why the box office take was so big. Any type of mythological work has universal appeal.

          The multiple murders were so ghastly and so out of place in the community that the case became high profile. It still is in some ways. I always felt that the attitudes of Atif and Sebastian played a large role in the urgency of the case. They were perceived as arrogant and indifferent but one must remember that adolescents will often present themselves in ways that go against societal norms. My guess is that the police, especially an inexperienced detective like Bob Thompson, were determined to get the better of them. Tunnel vision has causes. Police perception of an individual can cause prejudice in the absence of solid evidence; hence circumstantial evidence is skewed against the unlikable suspect. So it’s not always the victims of crime that produce the urgency but the nature of the killers or the suspects.

  14. I admire your determination. Really. Everybody deserves representation and a fair review/appeal of their convictions.

    But IMO you’re also engaging in the type of speculative thinking that you’re asking your own viewers not to engage in, such as with reason #5, item #2 (the greed motive).

    Firstly, you ask your readers to wonder if murdering his family sounds like it’s worth a mere $500k?…..thus implying it’s not logical nor common to murder for such a low amount of money. But in reality, thousands of murders are done for far less than half a million dollars even when the motive is purely financial and not personal. This is especially true for younger murderers.

    Plus… When you consider the fact that Sebastian said he was unsatisfied with his mobster pay for delivering ‘stolen cars’ to the United States for Mr. Big (in the videos) it really shows how greedy he really was…..along with his fascination for making money while doing illegal activities which could land him in jail (despite you claiming that the Burns’ family is so rich that Sebastian should have had no financial worries).

    Also, telling Mr. Big’s mobsters that he wasn’t satisfied with the pay he received (for delivering the cars) doesn’t lend credibility to the theory that he FEARED Mr. Big and was terrified of him. A person who was TRULY terrified of Mr. Big wouldn’t be complaining about mobster pay to those very same mobsters.

    Plus…. Sebastian made the statement (to Mr. Big’s mobsters) that he could make more money stealing videos from his local video rental store, thus showing how greedy and desperate he seemed to be to make money without having to work for it honestly.

    These greedy statements by Sebastian certainly don’t prove murder, but they do contradict your explanation that Sebastian wasn’t greedy or that his family was so rich that it wasn’t logical for him to murder for money.

    Secondly, you make the point that the Burns’ family was far more wealthy than the Rafay family (e.g. they would have delivered a bigger estate/insurance payday for being murdered) along with the fact that there’s no death penalty in Canada.

    However, you fail to mention that his sister was not living at home in Canada with her parents and could not have been murdered easily along with the parents to give Sebastian his maximum inheritance.

    Secondly, his family in Canada did not have a mentally impaired person in the home who essentially could not even call 911 or do anything to assist her family during the murders (all it takes is one extra person to call 911 to make such a plan not feasible).

    Plus… Even if he got his sister to come back to Canada for a family dinner with her husband, that would have left extra NON MENTALLY IMPAIRED adults in the home (who could have called 911 or run out of the home and got help once the attack began).

    Oh… and that assumes Sebastian doesn’t have any other family members or siblings who might be present in the home in addition to his sister and her husband, which would add even more people to the room.

    Most importantly….. Your “Canada Theory” doesn’t take into account that by doing the murders in the United States nobody had to physically bludgeon their own parents (Sebastian was convicted of being the “bat man” because Atif was far too small and meek to take out his entire family with a bat). However, under your “Canada Theory” it would have been Sebastian who would have had to bludgeon his own parents face to face, which isn’t the same thing as killing non family members.

    Atif is far too tiny to do anything other than watch (I doubt he’d win a fist fight against a 90 year old granny, lol).

    Thus your conclusion that it would have been more logical to do the killings in Canada doesn’t really stand up to basic logic when all of the evidence is considered.

    I do agree that the Mr. Big confessions are not solid enough to force a conviction all by themselves though. But when I look at the totality of circumstantial evidence, I’d have still convicted them both myself.

    Part of being on a jury means using your own life experiences and basic common sense when evaluating circumstantial evidence which could be interpreted in different ways (juries are allowed to use common sense to evaluate evidence).

    The movie theater alibi isn’t really air tight and it’s certainly not much of a leap to assume that they left a darkened movie theater and returned. It’s not as if it takes a rocket scientist to leave a darkened movie theater and come back. It’s a rather simple plan, not very sophisticated.

    But I do respect your determination in representing them.

    • You’ve taken a lot of time, Michael, so I’d like to answer over a period of time as well. Much of what you. Say is factually incorrect although your conclusion–that they are guilty as charged–is a matter of opinion. I will deal with your final point first: No one ever said that they returned to the theater, in fact no one saw them leave the theater, either before or after the end of the film. While it would have helped the defense if someone had seen them leave after the film, we don’t usually notice people when we leave the cinema in the dark or even in the lobby.

    • With respect to Sebastian’s supposed greed, I would consider the circumstances under which he spoke of that as a motive. He’s speaking to people that he thinks are mobsters, gangland types, so he needs to convince them that he is ‘solid’ and he needs to do it with as much bravado as possible. What he is saying, therefore, is part of an act, and cannot be taken as one might take a confession to a police officer. (And even those confessions can be dubious.)

  15. I have only 1 observation to make. Those who want to review the legality if not the morality; of the confessions can Google Burns v Warner. In a decision upheld by the liberal 9th circuit; Judge Marsha Pechman; a federal judge; goes through Burns’s claims and rejects each one in detail. She of course takes care to opine everybody is entitled to their opinion; but I firmly believe her arguments against coercion are persuasive. Her opinion as a federal judge carries a lot of weight. I’m not saying her legal opinion confirms guilt. The centerpiece of the legal arguments has been that the confessions were illegally obtained by coercion. But thus far the trial court; the state appeal court; the federal habeas judge; and the liberal 9th circuit who routinely reverse criminal cases; have found that the confessions were given voluntarily and of their own free will. As Pechman roughly said; Burns was free to stay or leave; he was not a naive young kid; and after watching the tapes she; a highly decorated and revered federal jurist was struck by how calm he was and she saw nothing demonstrating fear as he laughed at killing 3 people. It may well be that jurors can be blinded by emotion; which is why we have federal judges appointed for life who discard emotion and sentiment; and issue decisions with dispassion and lack of bias.

    • Interesting comments, William. I appreciate what you’ve said.
      Rubin Carter was fond of saying that “The death penalty is the perfect punishment but perfection has no place in a system that is run by human beings.” So, yes, people of great weight and moral authority can weigh in and rule but, because they weren’t at the murder scene or the interrogation, can easily be mistaken. The legal system is run by people.
      Months of videotape of Sebastian Burns were taken by the RCMP; what the jury and the judge saw was a distillation; none of Burns’s denials appeared on the tapes, only the so-called confession. Neither Burns nor Rafay made those confessions of their own free will. Even confessions made to the police and sanctioned by Miranda rights can be false. We see this over and over in wrongful conviction cases.
      Finally, have you ever seen bravado in a teenager? It doesn’t look like fear but it may mask it. Judge Warner and the whole post-conviction system has one purpose: sustain the conviction (unless evidence to the contrary (e.g. DNA) is overwhelming.

  16. They were found guilty by their own admissions. Their admisions were not done out of fear for their lives, but from their own greed. They refused dna testing. They did leave the US without saying a word. Who would act like this after a family was slaughtered? Not innocent people. Well, sociopaths would. They are locked down and not going anywhere…

    • “They were found guilty by their own admissions.” Does jlaw not believe in the possibility of false confessions? Does the Mr. Big technique actually encourage false confessions? (I know it does from other cases that were thrown out by the courts.)
      “Greed” was the only motive that the police and prosecutors could manage to come up with. My belief is that greed in this case is more a reflection of the mind of the accuser than the mind of the accused, a projection if you will. I have said before that if greed were so paramount and if these boys (at the time) were ‘amoral’, then why not go to Canada and kill the Burns family, where there was no capital punishment and where the Burns family was far better off financially than the Rafays?
      They did not ‘flee’ the US. They had no place else to go and they were not being held.
      Finally, does jlaw know how he would behave (at the age of 19) if he found his family slaughtered like that? Does anybody?

    • Of course it was “greed”! After everything that they had gone through with the media, they had no jobs, no possibility of school, no real way to make a decent living. They most likely felt that those perps could have offered them something (money, freedom) which they otherwise had very little access to. It is completely shameful what’s happened to them. The justice system is evil in this country — just look at what happens to black men and women shot by the police

  17. I just watched the Netflix documentary and can’t believe the police got away with using this tactic. They were clearly determined that these two were the killers, in the face of everything pointing elsewhere.
    I know it’s easy to show situations in different a different light depending on how you select the evidence; this goes for both the documentary and the original trial; so I’m not saying the documentary shows all there is to know.
    Watching the footage of the confessions is heartbreaking; flippant, contradictory answers without internal consistency, led by an indtomidating character intended purely to illicit these kind of responses. The ridiculousness of it all beggars belief.
    Reading the other comments; arrogance is not a crime, seeming cold is not a crime, reading philosophy is not a crime.

    It’s tragic that the lives of these loyal friends have been ruined based on the determination of police with a blinkered attitude. It’s tragic that the true killers walk free.

  18. Hello Ken, the information that I have about the case is limited from the Netflix documentary ‘The Confession Tapes’. I’m not going to get into legalities of the case, nor argue the innocence of Sebastian and Atif. But I deeply admire your drive and commitment in helping these men at a chance for a fair trial. Keep on fighting!

  19. I am really failing to see why it is even worth defending the accused . Yes the complete lack of hard evidence is rather peculiar; but one must remember that these are not two odirnary teenagers. They clearly have visions of grandeur purely from there intrest in zeude, and being a psychologist it is almost too easy to work out the behavior of those two teenagers. The complete lack of remorse , not going to the funeral , renting movies after the murders. Your argument is what would you do in the situation , I think you can agree that the higher percentage would not leave there sister to die , would not care for a VCR missing , and would not attend the funeral of there whole family ? are you telling me that this is normal behavior and should be ignored ? They were both 19 year old sociopaths , clearly looking for a thrill and obsessed with achieving there own greatness , commiting three perfect murders, escaping without even having to pretend to show remorse and living the high life on the insurance money while they plan there next plan.
    i do see your point about mr bigs being a bullying tactic and should not be used; but the fact lies that they confessed along with the evidence of complete lack of remorse is MORE than enough evidence to why these two will spend there rest of there lives in jail and defending them is a complete waste of time.

    • Some of what you say about them is true, Shir. Sadly, that is why they were convicted. They behaved arrogantly and obnoxiously, before and after the murders. But, if you really are a psychologist, your conclusions are surprisingly inconsistent. Why would they feel remorse if they were innocent of the crime? Renting movies when you are stuck in a motel room for days is not terribly criminal or heartless. Maybe a bit escapist, no? The frivolous use of the insurance money indicates a lack of judgment but what do adolescents generally do with a pocketful of money?

      I think they were convicted because police and prosecutors, just like Shir, tend to dislike kids like that. I probably would not have liked them either if i knew them then, but I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they were capable of such a heinous crime because of such personal traits.
      A psychologist is supposed to be a scientist. A scientist does not label people sociopaths without a proper examination. The judge said that Burns was ‘amoral’. Had Burns murdered three family members, he would have been an amoral sociopath, even a psychopath. What happens, though, if Burns and Rafay are innocent? What if you knew for certain that they were innocent? Would you have called them sociopaths notwithstanding that they did not commit the murders?

      What Kelly Loudenberg did so well in the Netflix piece was to allow each side to have its say. There was no Michael Moore like voice directing the way you ought to think. You are free to draw your own conclusions from the evidence presented. I think most people can see the railroad job that the police did on the suspects, the crass vulgarity of the RCMP gangsters, the snide bullying of two vulnerable yet, I will admit, not so nice young people.

      As I quote at the beginning of this website: “All true convictions should proceed from a scientific investigation the results of which can be replicated (and which should be shown to be replicable). A particular person should not necessarily have any involvement whatsoever in the investigation into or trial of their offense. The world itself should provide all details and all evidence. If such evidence is lacking, then a crime cannot be proven without a doubt, and a person ought not to be convicted or punished.” Jesse Ball, Silence Once Begun (Pantheon, 2014) THE LACK OF FORENSIC EVIDENCE IS NOT ODD. IT IS THE VERY FOUNDATION OF THEIR INNOCENCE.

      • Yes, 2 poor innocent young kids, barely out of diapers, really
        Babies who slept in cribs still, I bet

        I believe that SOME of the people in the Netflix series were innocent, but not these 2
        People do seem to love these stories, but you know, a very large percentage of people convicted of crimes, are actually guilty

      • Innocence, and “not guilty” verdict in a legal sense i.e.not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, are 2 different things
        You don’t KNOW that these 2 are innocent, unless you were present during thebkillings and saw what happened.

        So those smart enough to hide forensic evidence should walk, only dummies who mess up, ever get convicted of murder.
        You are in love with these 2, for whatever reason..OK.
        Do you know there are cases in both USA and Canada where murder convictions have happened with NO forensic evidence, without even a body?
        No definitive proof that a person had beenmkilled, maybe they disappeared to a new life in a different country?

        But conviction happened on witness testimony that the accused told them they did it.
        Or circumstances. .like motivation, access, ability.
        A man’s wife disappears and there is NOTHING proving he did it, no forensic evidence, zero.
        In fact he may have hired someone to do it..No proof of that, either..he has an airtight alibi.
        Convicted, nevertheless.
        Should those who hire a hit man get off Scot free?
        By definition, there’d be no forensic evidence tying him to the murder.
        I think yo6 are not well acquainted with law if you think forensic evidence is always mandatory for conviction
        Anyway, how would you know 100.00% that police didn’t plant evidence, lie about it, etc?
        Forensic, physical evidence isn’t 100.00000 % foolproof either
        You could always argue that, if you like the accused person and believe they must be innocent.
        Maybe no-one should ever be convicted of murder?

        I think that’s why the law refers to “beyond a REASONABLE doubt ”
        NOT ” beyond ANY POSSIBLE doubt, whatsoever.
        That standard would mean almost no-one would ever be convicted
        Even multiple eyewitnesses CAN, possibly, be mistaken, Or lie. Physical evidence COULD possibly be planted.
        Expert witnesses could lie, for pay

        Maybe just accept that some people will be victims, and no-one need face justice for committing crimes

        .

          • Does anyone in this discussion remember what is what like to be 18 years old? You think you are clever, but you are not.

            I personally think they are awful people, but guilty of this crime? No. To commit a crime like this and to have the forensic intelligence to hide a mountain of evidence that would surely convicg them had they committed these incredibly messy murders would mean they possess a level of criminal in. If they are guilty, not counting guilty of arrogance and bravado, then they are cunning criminals and deserve to be in jail. Quite doubtful

          • I agree with Harper entirely except for one thing. They are not ‘awful people'; they were, as you said, 18 years old and lacking judgment, even obnoxious and arrogant at the time. “You think you are clever, but you are not.” Simply stated but absolutely true.

          • Does anyone in this discussion remember what is what like to be 18 years old, especially with supportive loving families? These kids were not from broken dysfunctional famiiles where you might forgive their criminal transgressions, they loved their families, they got caught up in a mess set up by the Canadian police.

            They denied their involvement and then “confessed” to be cool with men who they thought were gangsters/mafioso types.

            In reality they were being deceived by the police that should have been searching for the real killers. Based on the abundance of evidence and testimony the authorities were given by other reliable sources and officials, it is unconscionable that they continued to pursue this course alone and not consider other possibilities.

            I personally think they are awful people, but guilty of this crime? No. To commit a crime like this and to have the forensic intelligence to hide a mountain of evidence that would surely convict them had they committed these incredibly messy murders, would mean they possess a level of criminal sophistication a couple of college kids probably don’t have.

            If they are guilty, not counting guilty of arrogance and bravado, then they are cunning criminals and deserve to be in jail. Quite doubtful

  20. I just watched Netflix Confession Tape. It is insane that false confessions are used to convict wrongfully time and time again. So many people can’t fathom innocent people will confess but there are so many cases in the past and many more to come. I followed Memphis three, and Amanda Knox case, which were both overturned after lengthy legal battles. I am saddened very much to see Sebastian and Atif incarcerated on illegal technique to draw false confession and due to people who just can’t see beyond their norms.

    • Yes I also just watched the episodes.
      It is so interesting this case I believe was a false trial. I’m 17 in year 10 and earlier during the year we studied “serial” narrated by Sarah Koenig and there’s so many things that are similar, LOTS of inconsistencies, alibis and so suspects that were never interviewed etc.
      like the people who were calling Atifs mum sending threats were never looking into which is bizarre.

    • Wow I am 17 and just watched the episodes on this case and my god it’s so interesting! I can’t stop looking info up etc.
      then I found this thread, I absaloutly love this thread so much information.
      I personally believe they are innocent, everything sounded to forced like when he swore you could really tell he was trying to act cool, but he was talking to a “gang member” so I probably would Have to, but then there was all the umming hand ahhing and inconsistencies which did it for me, I’m no lawyer (obviously) but that screams innocence to me, am I right??
      But at the trial when Atif starts crying saying how hoe much he loved them sounded forced to like he was told to be sad, it didn’t look natural.
      Watching there body language a lot of the time they’d hold there breath, and jimmy? I’ve forgotten his name (the japaniese boy) when he was up at the stand his face went red, pretended he couldn’t hear what was said and didn’t swallow or breath for a few seconds unlike how he acted before that statement was made (about the email).
      I don’t know, as I said im 17 so probably reading it all wrong but I’d love to hear what you think!
      Look forward to your response!! :)

  21. So the alternative theory is that religious extremists killed them….with baseball bats?….in his supposed false confession, Burns remembers that he wasn’t completely naked when he committed the murders, that he was wearing a pair of “gonch”-underwear. His description of the murders makes a lot of sense and probably represents what really happened in my humble opinion.

    • I always thought that Muslim extremists heavily preferred using knives, stabbings, slitting throats , or beheading.certainly in most cases of
      Islamic extremists killing.
      Or guns shooting, both more effective, easier to carry
      A baseball bat is an odd choice for a planned hit.
      Seems more a spontaneous weapon of convenience, found there..by Burns, Rafay?
      Islamic belief is that beheadings prevent the victim’s from entering Jannah — Heaven,
      I believe.

      • I agree with about the weapon choice in this case, just wanted to clarify that in Islamic teaching proper beheading (Game of thrones-like) grants a quick death and considered merciful as it doesn’t let the beheaded feel any agony like electrocution or hanging (Halal Meat is slaughtered in this method)

      • However, if you watch the tapes of their confession (whether you believe it to be false or fact) Burns states it was a weapon of convenience while Atif states himself accompanied by Burns had bought the metal bat at a store. It’s honestly hard to believe that a story could change that much and stay true. The one thing that has always stuck in my head from my ex Police officer law teacher was “it’s harder to remember the lies” which in turn plays a large role in why Burns and Atif had different stories for the murders.

  22. The Netflix documentary definitely shed some light on this case and brought it back into the public eye. In my opinion I feel that it is very likely that both of these individuals did commit the murders. My reasons for believing this is that the way that both Burns and Atif behaved following the murders was very foolish, and no matter who you are if your parents have just died you’d think you’d feel a bit down or even a little bit mentally unstable in the days to come. They were behaving as a couple teens who had just won a lottery or were successful in their task. Also the mentality to commit 3 murders also isn’t so far out of reach for them at the time. They are both teenagers at an age that represents great mental instability, Burns is pretty smart slick talking guy from what I could see and for him to manipulate Atif into his plan would not have been too hard either, especially when you see the type of stuff they were reading prior to this. Also, Burns shows that his moral compass at the time was off because he was willing to do crimes for monetary reward when dealing with Mr. Big, or he thought it was no biggie since he already earned his stripes by going Barry Bonds on 3 people so at that point he was willing to do whatever. Furthermore they claim to watch Goodfellas and the movie could have influenced Burns to be a “gangster”
    Furthermore both men claim that they are innocent and gave their thoughts, but any person with half a brain would claim innocence after spending several years in jail knowing that there was a huge chance that you could get out since there was a lot of faulty evidence. Of course Burns is gonna argue that the trial was unfair and Atif is gonna cry NOW, because at this point you don’t wanna rot in jail for the rest of your life opposed to being free regardless of wether you commit the crime or not. From a behavioral perspective they commit this crime teenagers who though they could outsmart the system for whatever reasons, at an age where alot of us make a lot of stupid decisions. I believe that they are now rehabilitated and definitely feel remorse for what they’ve done but the choices that they made as youth have ruined their futures. Although I think they did it, they should not have been guilty because the evidence was weak and the whole Mr.Big technique was unjust. It’s not about what they did but what you can prove in the court of law. But then again what do I know.

    • Gavin has laid out a lot of the circumstantial evidence used against them in the court and the media. A lot of it depends on reading into actions that can have other interpretations.
      Not sure what “going Barry Bonds” is all about. Or watching Goodfellas encouraging someone to be a gangster. Let me make this clear: after the murders their behavior stunk. It was disrespectful. But I’d say that’s as much a sign of innocence as guilt, maybe moreso, because smart criminals are going to lie low after clubbing people to death. And why that methodology that can leave so much evidence in its wake? Clubbing people to death is more a sign of fanaticism than stealth. And, once again, I can’t tell you how I’d behave after seeing such a thing. It might even have turned me into a nihilist at that age.

      • Actually a normal sign of “Islamic fanaticism” , which you seem desperate to claim, is slitting throats with a knife, and often beheadings
        Very few cases of using an aluminum baseball bat to bash people in Islamic fanatic cases

        Sons, angry at limitations felt to be imposed by famiky, can often be in unspeakable rage and commit such acts.
        Also coldblooded killers wanting insurance money might try to disguise as a passion killing, many things are possible, some more likely than others
        Perhaps aliens from another solar system landed in UFOs and did it?
        Anyway l you appear in love with these 2, I guess you identify with their superiority. You wouldn’t want to help defend the many uneducated, non-polished, less eloquent people with 2hom it’d be difficult to discuss Nietzsche, or something. Some inferiors may need help more, and be really 100% innocent, but blech, who cares about those schmucks, can’t really come across well in a news conference, etc

        • Bludgeonings are not unusual in that context. I don’t think you’ve done your research there, Betty. We have a theory on this crime, based on a certain amount of evidence, but it remains a theory that many have not heard before. It’s a theory that should have been allowed in the courtroom, however it may have been seen by the jury. No alternate theory was presented in that courtroom and this one had some amount of credibility, based on tips from informers.
          Your statement about me is resentful, unfair and false, so maybe you tend to write things based on what you feel, not what you know.

        • The fact is we may never know why Islamic extremists may have used a baseball bat because that was never investigated as it should have been. However the murder supposedly was also set up to look like a house burglary at the same time, hence the boxes tipped over and a couple of items stolen. So maybe using the baseball bat was part of the ruse to make it appear as a ‘burgualry gone wrong’ when it was actually an assassination.

          • Of course this was said about Atif and Sebastian–that they tipped over boxes and disposed of a VCR and so forth to make it look like a burglary. It’s all speculation and I agree “we may never know why”. Maybe whoever did the crime wanted to take something away with them as well? You can speculate endlessly. The fact that Atif mentioned the missing VCR was used against him in either scenario. Either he wanted to give the impression that it was a burglary and/or that it proved he was a heartless person who cared more about a thing than his family. Perhaps he focused on something he could deal with emotionally rather than on the carnage that was too overwhelming? People will do that sometimes in terrible circumstances; they zone out and deal with something irrelevant.

            On a related topic, some Iraq War veterans came home with PTSD after seeing the death of one person, just one. They were trained soldiers. I just don’t believe that two boys with no criminal records could obliterate three people with a baseball bat and be able to function afterwards. But I also agree that I’m speculating, based on what my own experience tells me.

    • I actually think this is what makes them innocent… if they had thought out such an elaborate plan and intended to kill, their behaviors going forward would have been different. They would have been the “perfect” victims. Too perfect. Wailing at the funerals. Wearing all black. Crying out for justice. The whole 9 yards. I think for two kids, they didn’t really know what to do and felt completely lost. It’s not easy to know what anyone of us would do at 18 and to have your entire family blougenoed to death.

      Also, it’s just hard for me to believe that anyone killing for insurance money would use a bat to kill…

  23. How old were the young me in the confession tapes? It looks like there are beer bottles in the video, if they were under age and drinking alcohol how would this evidenced be admissible, if they were under the influence of alcohol?

    • They were 19 and legal drinkers. BUT the RCMP supplied the beer to loosen them up. I don’t know the legality there but that is a common tactic of the sting.

  24. Such a blatant miscarriage of justice. After watching ‘”The Confession Tapes” & learning about this case I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It seems like once most detectives zero in on “their man” they wear blinders that force them to exclude all possible suspects or scenarios. They had an alibi, there was no forensic evidence tying them to the murders & RCMP used a technique that is illegal in The US & has since been barred in Canada. My biggest problems are the use of the Mr. Big technique & the not following up on other leads. I’ll start with the former. What if torture was legal in the country that the confession was recorded in? On top of that, Atif & Sebastian’s accounts of the crime don’t match up with each other or fit the forensics of the murder scene. Being suspected of a crime you didn’t commit is bad enough. Now compound that with someone murdering your parents. No wonder why Atif wanted to go out & spend some of the life insurance money he received with the only person whom truly understood what he was going through. That to me sounds like a teenager trying his hardest to avoid confronting the emotions of losing his entire family & coming to terms with the realization that he was now alone in this world. I know I personally I’d do anything that helped my mind escape the reality of my new life. Even worse than the RCMP extorting a false confession out of the teenagers is the overlooking of legitimate intelligence from of law enforcement agencies. Sounds like the RCMP took the easy way out. An investigation into the intelligence collected from reputable sources would have proved costly & time consuming. No law enforcement agency likes to have a triple homicide go unsolved but, the RCMP & the media (thanks to the misinformation they were given) has these boys tried & convicted within days, if not hours, of the Rafay family murders. The only thing these guys (kids at he time) are guilty of is being stupid & trying to fit in in a world they new nothing about.

  25. Just watched the Netflix Documentary.
    This happens way to often, individuals in positions of authority manipulating and coercing false confessions. No wonder people have lost faith in the Justice system. I hope that this innoncence project is still working hard to free Sebastian and Atif. Thank you for all you do Mr. Klonsky.

  26. I am so glad that The Innocence Project is going to help these two boys, because I really believe they are completely innocent. You can tell that they are only trying to impress Mr Big, and possibly get help from him since he is telling them that the cops are coming for them. They are making things up as Mr Big asked them. In one story they are naked during the murders, other times they talk about where they disposed of the clothes they wore during the murders. I’m sure they had no idea these fake stories told in the spur of the moments to this “criminal” would not be used to prosecute them. I feel like Atif Rafay never really got to properly mourn his family, because he was always being looked at as a suspect.

  27. I saw the Netflix production.

    im keen to understand if during the case the court heard the other possibilities such as what’s been said here and in the documentary.

    If the prosecution’s job is to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” then it’s the defence’s job to make the case that there is “reasonable doubt” that the killers were Rafay and Burns and the court’s job is to hear from both sides. From what i’ve read, the court didn’t hear much of the other possibilities and also Burns argued that they were not allowed to hear from their side. Could you elaborate?

    Were there testimonies who could explain the sort of behavior exhibited by the two? Were there any similar cases where young men have acted in such way amid tragedy and media storm? Were these case presented in the trial?

    I don’t necessarily think that setting someone up for a confession should be inadmissible in court but I do believe the full tapes need to be presented and the confessions need to be closely scrutinized. There were elements of coercion and duress to get these confessions. If the prosecution was able to create a situation for creating a scene where the two (or three) would willingly and freely confess, the the stunt would be more acceptable. The full tapes ought to be preserved and be presented because in many cases there would be many instances where it would help the defense and weaken the prosecution.

    I find the immunity deal on Miyoshi a bit suspect. Knowing the fate of his friends, he would have never testified in their favor. For what? To spend the rest of his own life behind bars too and be separated from his family and the life he managed to build in Japan. He was a third suspect being accessory to a triple murder, could the prosecution really seek justice by letting one go free or were they really sitting on a weak case even after the Big T op?

    Did any detail emerge about Miyoshi’s supposed involvement in the murder?

    • I’ll answer the major question here. When Sebastian says that they had to fight this case with both hands tied behind the back, I think he was correct. The judge refused to allow three possible means of defending themselves.
      1. They were not allowed to present evidence of a possible Muslim fundamentalist connection.
      2. They were not allowed to have the FBI expert on sting operations (Levine) in the court because the judge ruled he was not an expert.
      3. Richard Leo, a noted analyst of false confessions, was not allowed to testify after he’d written a dossier on the case. The judge ruled, I think bizarrely, that a jury can make up its own mind if someone is lying or telling the truth. That was an asinine decision that the Washington appeal courts have upheld.
      Whether or not one thinks they were innocent (or guilty), a defendant has the right to mount a defense. That’s what courts and habeas rights are about; it’s also a fundamental right in a democratic state.

      • I agree 1000% on this!!! The crime scene really points to this being a fundamentalist attack and I am in shock the courts didn’t look further into this. It just seemed the judge simply didn’t like them. The whole thing makes me sick realizing this could happen to anyone.

  28. Saw this on Netflix.

    What a sorrowful situation.

    I would like to think the pair are innocent but the thing that troubles me the most regardless of the bully methodology is the fact that Mr. Rafay claims the reason behind their actions was for the insurance money. This is a really hard one to call, I would love to say innocent but after viewing it and evaluating what my gut is telling me, I am truly left with mixed emotions. Nietzsche or not, I think that the emotion no show is again truly puzzling. I want to believe they are innocent but sadly I just can’t.

    • I can fully appreciate your ambivalence, Re. People bring emotions into the courtroom just like they bring in their reasoning capacity. One does not function without the other.
      I would only say that the ‘justification’ given for the crime, i.e. money, was an attempt to satisfy the gangster/interrogators. They made it clear that if the two boys were not ‘solid’, they would be dealt with accordingly. The trick was that the gangster/interrogators committed crimes in front of the boys and/or showed the rewards of crime and mentioned violent acts they supposedly did like wasting people. Sebastian and Atif had to give them a motive. Let’s say you were innocent and found yourself in the same situation. What motive would you give to keep your life intact?

  29. I was thinking that one aspect that might help your argument in a fairly substantial manner is the fact that even though their immediate surroundings were heavily wired they never once spoke about it. Regardless how intelligent a person may be, certainly something no matter how small will surface. Just an observation but I think it might be relevant to this debate.

    • This point has been made on several occasions, so the police and prosecutors found a rationale, as they always do. The boys, the said, were so clever (you actually see Konat saying this) that they knew they were being taped. I’ve always wondered how the law enforcement people could think that these kids were clever enough to keep their mouths shut for five months and yet fall for Mr. Big.
      Your comment is certainly relevant.

  30. After watching the show and doing some reading, I have to say I totally believe these 2 men did this crime.
    The 911 call specified a break in, not murders and a still alive person in critical condition needing help.
    The teens know what time dad and sister go to bed, an early time for a hitman to assume they would be soundly sleeping and especially since the mom was still up doing things. Especially if the hitman’s only weapon to kill 3-4 people was a single baseball bat.
    Then the idea of the teens going to a nightclub minutes before it would close is bizarre unless they needed to show they were still out and about at 2 am prior to returning to the home.
    If a professional group was staging a break in, robbery, they certainly would not take tiny items like a VCR and Walkman and what person in shock over finding his family murdered in that fashion would even notice those 2 items missing or walk around that scene looking for missing items especially while his beloved sister was still alive and needing medical attention?
    Who would walk in on the mother they so loved and not check to see if she was alive if her body was facing down and get blood all over-themselves?
    Also what hitman would leave anyone alive and stop to shower with his bat before heading out of the home especially one who was aware there was another son in the family who could return anytime?
    Was this hitman/robber supposed to have come in the home barefoot, leaving no shoe or even foot prints blood stained marks outside the home or in the home?
    Who the Hell washes only 2 pairs of underwear in a washing machine load that also happen to be the 2 boys convicted of this crime?
    If you are looking for the other person in the room the dad died in, perhaps it was his son, who wanted to see this man bludgeoned, and his underwear got blood splattered at that time, or just in case, were thrown in with Sebastian’s.
    The dad, who was sleeping, got the worse beating for some reason.
    Neither of these 2 teens looked at all upset at any time about this horrific crime and Atif only showed any remorse at his sentencing when trying to act innocent but seemed to forget he also lost a sister (he “loved”), as he only discussed the loss of his parents.
    These two appear to both be psychopathic and narcissistic.

    • Hi Jill,
      These arguments appear reasonable and were persuasive with the jury; they are arguments made if one is 100% sure they did the crime. All else follows. For myself they represent the essence of tunnel vision. e.g. Two pair of underwear are found in the washing machine. This must mean that they were “blood spattered”. There is no evidence for that at all. “Neither of these two teens looked at all upset…” If they looked upset you would say they were deceitful hypocrites. It goes on. Everything becomes grist for the mill of their guilt. They ordered wine and a salad at the restaurant. Why? To establish an alibi, but, God forbid, not to have a drink like any 19 year old. They go to a movie. Why? To establish an alibi. God forbid they might want to see “The Lion King.”
      Good lawyers are trained to make convincing arguments, not to ferret out truth. Truth is for higher realms.

    • Spot on Jill! you’ve convinced me

      1.The time of the murders – you don’t show up at 9:30 to kill 4 people with a baseball bat and think you’ll get away with it cause everyone will be asleep.

      2. Not footprints whatsoever? So this guy broke in barefoot, murdered 3 people, didnt know where the 4th one was but decided – eh I’ll shower here – you would want to get away asap

      3. You’re trying to stage a break in? No one breaks in murders 3 people and then takes a walkman and VCR in the hopes of convincing authorities wrong place, wrong time. You wouldn’t stay to murder 3 people if you just came for some merchandise – And then stick around to shower.

      4. 2 pairs of underwear freshly washed??? No one does an entire load of laundry for 2 pairs of underwear. This seems like one of their mistakes.

      Don’t support getting these guys out. This is not circumstance, I understand on principle maybe they shouldn’t have been convicted, but never fear the right people went to jail.

      • Andy,
        The way evidence is seen and used often confirms the prejudice of the observer.
        Let’s look at the underwear evidence: The police supposedly found two pairs of underwear in the washing machine. The implication was that they had been blood-spattered and that the washing machine was used to eliminate the blood. This is the power of suggestion without proof. Do you think that blood washes out so easily? Do you know that one of the lies told by the RCMP gangsters was that bloodstains on that underwear implicated them in the crime? So the so-called evidence is suggested to be proof. People like you and Jill, Andy, go along with this.
        Look at all the so-called evidence you have brought up here. Do your questions indicate that you don’t know and that you’re seeking answers or that you and Jill are trying to make the facts fit your theory of what happened? We don’t know the full answers to what took place. We never will. The issue here is the shabby case against the so-called perpetrators of this crime. “I understand on principle maybe they shouldn’t have been convicted.” What principle? The US Constitution?

        • The thing that struck me was why would the boys leave the sister alive if they did it? People are using that as an example of guilt, that they didnt help her, but if they did why wouldnt they go back and hit her again before making the call? Theres obvious discrepancies in the confession that could go either way but I also thought it was weird to pick and chose which evidence to follow. If you believe they stripped down to underwear to do it then how can you use blood on the pant leg as evidence too? Sebastian lools like a tool but the jails would be alot busier than they already are if thats the criteria.

  31. I have seen the new Netflix documentary and I am deeply saddened by what I have seen. I have no faith in the justice system. Please I hope there is something that can still be done to release these two poor guys. They’ve already lost so much of their lives already. I am angry that the defence was not allowed to present evidence that was needed to help in their trial. How is this allowed! I want to do something, anything to help as I cannot imagine how terrible they must feel to have spent two decades locked up for something that clearly has reasonable doubt.

  32. I’m glad I’m European. Unbelievable how the justice system in the USA works. And unbelievable how some Americans keep believing the system actually works, despite the evidence sometimes the system is actually wrong. I hope justice will be done, because I’m convinced this is a wrongfull conviction.

  33. Wow i can’t believe that some of you dont see the way the jury was manipulated into convicted these two young boys whose only crimes we’re to be young and dumb, and not being able to cope or not wanting to cope with the reality what happened.. i mean come on!!!! You guys contradict yourselves, just look at the footage of them in the family’s memorial, they were acting extremely foolish! Even laughing. Is that the way 2 calculated and cunnings killers act? Specially knowing they are the main suspects and that they have to try and make people think they didn’t do it. I mean think about it, if the alibis were staged? And they went through all this trouble to plan and cover up a murder, wouldn’t they also try and at least show remorse, a little tear, something!!! They didn’t and you know why? Because they thought they had nothing to worry about! And our justice system failed them! Even if they were to get out tomorrow, they failed these two kids! Who are now adults that on top of one of them losing his family, has spent the last 2 decades in prison.. i mean jesus! I can only imagine the feeling of being wrongfully convicted for something it’s so obvious you didnt do.. another thing, the conffesions, did you guys see how he was denying it at first!!! Omg it doesnt take a freaking psychologist to see that the mobsters scared the living crap out of them not only by intimidating them, but by saying”hey we have connections on the inside if you tell us what happened we can make this go away” i mean whattttt! What kind of judge would allow a confession like that inside an american justice system, even i probably would have lied about the whole thing i mean afterall these so called “mobster” can help me get the cops off me for something they obviously have a hard on for.. and how can we ignore! Jesus christ! How!! Can we ignore, the “FBI” tipping police about a possible suspect! What’s your explanation for this? “Burns” and “Atif” have connections with the FBI and staged that too.. i mean hey ken, please.. do everything you can for these kids man! I beg you.. and the Detectives, the Prosecutor and even the Judge should pay for what they’ve done to these kids, it scares me to death to know that there are countless people in the same situation… Stop injustice!

  34. Wow i can’t believe that some of you dont see the way the jury was manipulated into convicted these two young boys whose only crimes we’re to be young and dumb, and not being able to cope or not wanting to cope with the reality what happened.. i mean come on!!!! You guys contradict yourselves,, just look at the footage of them in the family’s memorial, they were acting extremely foolish! Even laughing. Is that the way 2 calculated and cunnings killers act? Specially knowing they are the main suspects and that they have to try and make people think they didn’t do it. I mean think about it, if the alibis were staged? And they went through all this trouble to plan and cover up a murder, wouldn’t they also try and at least show remorse, a little tear, something!!! They didn’t and you know why? Because they thought they had nothing to worry about! And our justice system failed them! Even if they were to get out tomorrow, they failed these two kids! Who are now adults that on top of one of them losing his family, has spent the last 2 decades in prison.. i mean jesus! I can only imagine the feeling of being wrongfully convicted for something it’s so obvious you didnt do.. another thing, the conffesions, did you guys see how he was denying it at first!!! Omg it doesnt take a freaking psychologist to see that the mobsters scared the living crap out of them not only by intimidating them, but by saying”hey we have connections on the inside if you tell us what happened we can make this go away” i mean whattttt! What kind of judge would allow a confession like that inside an american justice system, even i probably would have lied about the whole thing i mean afterall these so called “mobster” can help me get the cops off me for something they obviously have a hard on for.. and how can we ignore! Jesus christ! How!! Can we ignore, the “FBI” tipping police about a possible suspect! What’s your explanation for this? “Burns” and “Atif” have connections with the FBI and staged that too.. i mean hey ken, please.. do everything you can for these kids man! I beg you.. and the Detectives, the Prosecutor and even the Judge should pay for what they’ve done to these kids, it scares me to death to know that there are countless people in the same situation… Stop injustice!

  35. It is so obvious these young men were coerced. This is a wrongful conviction. The RCMP should be ashamed of their tactics to elicit this confession. The US justice system should be ashamed and held accountable for the way they mishandled this case and destroyed lives.

  36. so,,,,, where is the forensics in any of this?? Our court system is ridiculous and to hear a judge actually believe that this really happened without any forensics is just ignorant.

  37. I just watched the Netflix series and I believe they are guilty. Everyone kept going on about how these naive “boys” were manipulated. No, they were 19, not 9 and from what I could tell highly intelligent.

    • We can only hope that no legal system ever falsely accuses you of a heinous crime you didn’t commit. Senseless sheep are often courted as a jury and will be led by incomplete evidence to determine your guilt. These boys WERE manipulated by two seasoned officers who continuously told them if they didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, they would go to prison for life, and then showed them fabricated police paperwork. Kids or adults, MOST people would consider this evidence plausible.

      Obviously, no one ever gets falsely accused and everyone deserves punishment in your hometown. Watch the show again, do a little work by researching other sources, and then come back with REAL evidence. The murder that happened to this boy’s family has happened before — or do you believe these kids committed that an Ivy League student of Cornell University would risk his inheritance, which would be much greater, to murder that family too?

  38. Although the laws of “Mr. Big” have changed in Canada, I can say without the least bit of regret law enforcement is identical everywhere — it’s the people in the positions. While there are people who get into the court systems and law management to help mankind, there are certain places where bullies who are allowed to commit their bullying for praise in the same facilities. Why do I speak with such conviction?

    Years ago, I was an exotic dancer. I had no desire to tease men for money, but because of my naivety, there was no other way for me to survive on my own after a series of extremely unfortunate events. But I wasn’t in this situation due to stupidity. I was one of the most intelligent students of my school and represented my school in several contests because of my thinking. However, none of this was considered as I stood naked in front of a group of men for a bachelor party one night.

    Another new girl was giving her first performance. The routine was one girl danced while the other prepared. They would trade places before doing one number together. By “together” I don’t mean any physical touching of each other just dancing simultaneously. We never got that far. As I came off the stage, one of the men stopped me and told me they wanted to “send the bachelor off with a bang” and asked me how much it would cost. I explained to him that I don’t do “extras” because, with the money I bring in legally, it’s not worth the risk for a one-time payout–regardless of the bribe. He told me that Christa, the “virgin” performer, agreed to it. (He didn’t know it was her first bachelor party and she was very shy. We actually stopped and bought a wine cooler for her “badge of courage.” She certainly would not be giving into what he was saying.

    “Whether she agreed or not, I won’t.” He put his hand on my arm to stop me and said, “We have a box of condoms that’s completely full!” I still refused. He pushed me so hard with his verbal crap that I turned around and re-entered the room where she was dancing. Grabbing her by the arm, I led her to the bedroom and we changed into our street clothes. In our exchange while dressing, she told me that they had lied and said I was in agreement if she would agree, but she also refused.

    With our bags in hand, rushing through the living room, the leader stopped us again and asked where we were going. I told him we were finished because we were not whores or prostitutes but legitimate dancers. Even more, the contract he agreed to stated there was no sexual contact. Air hadn’t passed between us before he pulled out a badge and declared us under arrest. It was about 12 official guys against the words of two exotic dancers. Thank goodness they had a video of the entire event. Still, the case actually went to court. We were let go, of course. But it’s disgusting how far the cops will go when they’ve determined they know the outcome and refuse to appear as people who don’t know what they’re doing.

    Just considering all the money that went into setting up the bachelor party, the recording equipment, and the courtroom. Compared to these boys’ case, mine was dirt in the eye. These officials won’t EVER admit they’re wrong. Meanwhile, in addition to ruining these privileged kids, of a decent these men will never taste, they refuse to admit wrongdoing.

    I would give anything to write a film about this to let people know this really does happen. I would do it for free! These boys, their families, their wives (sorry, Sebastian), and the children they probably won’t have have all been altered while the real killers and watching and laughing with peanuts and beer.

    The fact is, men in this position will not EVER admit wrongdoing — why should they?

  39. And even if they are guilty – the ‘evidence’ used to give them life sentence is absolutely ridiculous. I will write to the court.

  40. Hi Ken.
    Really admire your work and all you are doing for these two innocent men. I am just curious; have they exhausted all their appeals? What can be done to help, and is there a chance of a retrial?
    Apologies if you’ve already answered these questions.
    Thanks

    • No apologies necessary, Anna. You have hit on the most bizarre aspect of this bizarre case. Sebastian’s appeals have been exhausted. Atif is still in the process of appeals. He has yet to go to federal court whereas Sebastian was denied his habeas. This has to do with Sebastian’s mental condition after years of isolation; he was incapable of going through all the intermediate steps that Atif has taken. So it is technically possible for Atif to be legally exonerated while Sebastian is not. I do not believe that this will happen. I do not trust the appeals process, given the outlandish rulings I have already read. New evidence can result in a mistrial, a new trial, or an exoneration. It can also go nowhere.

      • Hi Sir,

        I am sorry to ask to this question but – Will Sebestian serve his entire life in prison?
        Is there any way he can be helped?

        • No, Monika, I don’t believe he will. But it means having people in authority take a fresh look at this case. See rafayburnsappeal.com to see how you can help us achieve that goal.

  41. So does this mean that even if it were possible to prove sebastian didn’t do it, because he’s exhausted his appeals he will never be free even if evidence were to prove innocence? Sorry I don’t understand all the legal aspects

    • Believe me, it took me years to get my head around this insane system. One can exhaust legal appeals but in most jurisdictions, and Washington is just one, new evidence can always be looked at. I think there was a Supreme Court ruling to that effect; if so, then it must be in all jurisdictions. In fact, a minority of cases is decided by legal issues. New evidence, e.g. DNA, recanting witnesses, someone else confessing to the crime and so forth, forces the various district attorneys to re-examine cases.
      And yet, even with DNA, you’d be surprised how many of these offices try to hold on to wrongful convictions. They stall and then offer the prisoner a deal whereby the prisoner pleads guilty to a lesser crime and is released on “time served”. Or there’s an Alford Plea, a horror show, where the defendant pleads guilty to the crime he or she didn’t do, but is released to the community. That way, the DA’s office gets to say that there was no wrongful conviction when everyone in the community understands that there was. At least the person can get work and live a semi-normal existence. The American system of so-called criminal justice can be a cruel abomination in certain jurisdictions. The long prison sentences, begun with the Clinton Administration and for which he has apologized, make these plea deals an option for people desperate to leave prison.
      One of the largest problems in the legal system is the same problem that Morgan Sperlock sees in the fast food industry. “We want to trust.” The justice system works better than the fast food industry but we want to believe that its function is to protect us. My experience with wrongful convictions tells me that the system is as much about protecting those who work inside it as it is about the public. Let’s put it this way: each questionable case should be examined on its merits; we should not believe automatically that the public is protected from these kinds of abuses. You do so at your own peril. That is why “The Confession Tapes” is so powerful; people talk endlessly to the police without a lawyer present, believing they are protected by their innocence. The police want an arrest and a conviction. They want to look good. They have methods to make people say what they want you to say. You are not protected.

  42. I saw this story come up on a Netflix show I was watching. This case really upsets me a lot. There was no hard evidence what so ever!!!!!! People lie all the time about themselves even in negative ways. When I was a young teen I would lie about skipping school and going to wild parties to fit it with the bad kids when in reality I was a nerd who would never do those things. It was obvious they felt they had to lie to the gangsters to survive. The whole thing was unfair. They were too young to know how to cope and deal with a situation like that. They may have been legal adults but they didn’t have the world experience to understand the situation they were in. No offensive but they seemed to have been raised wealthy and a little sheltered and unaware of how the police and justice system can be. I was growing up around the same time as these guys and their personalities were just how my generation can be. I don’t know how to explain it. But I understood their behavior. I have a lot of friends who were raised similar and I know most of them would have reacted the same way in that situation. It tore my heart to pieces to hear how the judge talked to them. It was callous and unprofessional. It was plain as day that the judge and the police didn’t understand or like their personalities and wanted to peg the whole thing on them so they could prove a point.

  43. I just finished watching the two episodes about this case. I’m torn between if I think they’re innocent or not. I’ve read everyone’s comments on here and from both sides there are good points. The boys being 19 and trying to fit in with the mobsters makes sense. I’m 19 I know how people might act in a situation like that. Atif and Sebastian’s stories on the tapes were different, like with the bat. If they clearly both committed the crime together why were their stories different and why did they say “uh” and “um” so much as if they were trying to think of a story. However, the way the acted by leaving in the car and laughing, how could Atif, knowing his family had been murdered, he ran into the car laughing? And why were all the hairs in the shower Sebastian’s and no one else’s? I was hoping at the end of the episode everything would have been answered but there are a ton of questions that will never be answered.

    • Hi Bree,
      I think it’s basically impossible to tie up any case with a bow, so there is bound to be ambiguity on both sides. I’d like to answer a couple of your questions from the perspective of the support team.
      As to the laughing and joking: this has come up several times and the criticism is justifiable. However, you should take another look at the circumstances, i.e. go back into the segment. They were being chased by reporters at a memorial service for the Rafays. Their behavior was inappropriate, but is it any more appropriate for reporters to invade a memorial service and try to ask Atif why he wouldn’t talk to the police? The two of them were being harassed and yet, as we see it, they had done nothing to deserve this treatment.

      The “hairs in the shower” evidence is ludicrous. Since the police lacked any hard evidence, they jumped at one thing that might have associated Sebastian with the crime: Mr Rafay’s blood and Sebastian’s hair. I don’t know if there are too many adolescents who clean up shower stalls, even when they’re guests in the house. Those hairs were in there before the crime was committed. That was the shower he used as a guest in the Rafay home. Now why would Sebastian’s hair be the only hair in the shower? My guess is that the people who did the murder did not take a shower, but they cleaned off the murder weapon and whatever else needed to be cleaned off. Why would a murderer hang around to take a shower after clubbing someone to death? At the same time, why would a murderer leave the murder weapon behind and perhaps be identified? And would he take it with him dripping with blood? I think not.

  44. My gut can not escape the feeling that they are guilty, but have some major issues with the way they where convicted.
    I must admit the ” solid ” bond Sebastian and Atif have, to go as long as they have and not turn on each other says a lot.
    To me that means as much as both Sebastian and Atif final words.
    That being said I still can’t put the horrific crime beneath the mentality of our youth and what they are capable of.
    Unfortunately we have no evidence in which another motive for Atif to commit or let alone be a part with his best friend to murder his family. Hence no prior signs of amense hatred towards family members?

    Going back to my original thought as to the solidness of secrecy with each other is beyond psychology. Yeah especially Sebastian at this point has nothing to lose only to gain if he admits his guilt. I see a book slash box office hit!

    I do applaud your efforts to pursue justices in either case. Keep up the good work.

  45. Hello sir,

    I believe that the both Rafay and Burns are innocent. But it is heartbreaking to see that justice was not given a chance. It makes us worried for the humanity.
    I thank you for your work on bringing the truth to light.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

  46. Again as they both sit in isolation behind their cell doors you would think after repeating play by play in their heads day in day out that one of them would crack. Have they? I know you said Sebastian has suffered mental issues for being in solitary confinement. Did he crack and is simply blocking out the outcome of their “play”?
    I’m truly on the fence with this case.
    The confession tapes are completely illegal and should have never been admissible, unfortunately the American justice system failed.
    The question still remains unanswered and probably will be for 3 life sentences that run consecutive.
    I know polygraphs do not hold up in court, but If I was innocent I would be taking a polygraph on a daily bases for my own sanity.

    • Solitary will break anyone. When the negative publicity came out about solitary, they decided to show their humanity and place Sebastian back into the general population.

  47. Laughing at his parents’ memorial? That is not uncommon during immense stress.

    I’m a doctor. When as a young registrar (I think an attending equivalent in America) in anaesthesia, I was involved in the attempted and unsuccessful resuscitation of a 1 week old baby. It was incredibly sad and incredibly stressful. I still remember a point, though, after we’d declared the child dead that I and the senior Paediatrician shared a joke whilst we both helped swaddle the baby for Mum to cuddle. It was hideously inappropriate, but for both of us it was a release of stress that might otherwise had been torrents of tears.

    The point is we often behave in ways we subsequently abhor in times of extraordinary pressure and immeasurable stress. That is why we have science, and in law evidence, to negate our own interpretation of other people’s emotional responses.

    • This response should be seen by everyone involved with this case on either side of the equation. We laugh during funerals, at least I have done so, and hate ourselves for doing so. I think the bottom line is just what Simon writes here: Burns and Rafay should not have been tried and convicted for who they were or how they acted, but for the lack of evidence. In that way, they’d have been acquitted.

  48. Hi Ken,

    These type of cases have always interested and infuriated me at the same time. I try not to jump to conclusions based on one documentary or source as all sides will no doubt be self serving. But what drives me crazy in most of these “questionable” conviction cases is the out right unprofessionalism to say the least and in my opinion criminal actions of individuals (detectives, prosecutors) who are in positions of authority. When I watch the interrogation videos / confession tapes and hear these police officers line of questioning and tactics it is mind boggling to me that this is “how” things are done to investigate crimes and how someone can watch these tapes and not see someone saying “no I didn’t do it” a thousand times and then after 10 hours of sitting in a room being questioned break and say…well maybe I may have done it and regurgitate verbatim the words of the officers used and not see that as “flawed” somehow.

    But I do have a question for you Ken. Again what irritates me to no end is someone in authority abusing there power for whatever self serving reason. My question is about the judge in this case. I also watched the Netflix series and granted my only information on the judge has come from the clips in the documentary. After both Burns and Rafay made there comments prior to sentencing the judge handed down his sentencing. Is it normal or common practice for a judge to seemingly explain a sentence for a convicted person with such emotion in his reasoning? I found his short sentencing speak to be disgusting in the sense that it felt like it came more from someone directly involved (family) of a victim and a so called “impartial” individual who’s duty is to be unbiased and rule based on law? Just wondering your thoughts on this?

    And also I guess how the Mr Big tapes were allowed (legally speaking) into an American courtroom when the tactics are considered illegal in the US? (I guess what I’m looking for was how did the judge reason the tapes be admissible?)

    Thank you for your time Ken

    Jamie

    • These are astute questions, Jamie.
      This judge fits into the category of a moralizing judge. In his diatribe, I can see that he had a major animus toward the defendants. Since he was so certain of their guilt from day one, his rulings in the courtroom (in my view) were designed to short circuit any possibility of an acquittal. Even with Atif, who basically proclaimed his innocence, he seemed to think that the defendant was showing remorse for the crime. Mertel was anything but fair and dispassionate. You are right about that. What he said to Sebastian was only true if Sebastian had done the crime. Of course he didn’t show remorse because he didn’t commit the crime. A jury’s verdict has not come down from above; this jury (in my view) probably found them guilty because they had no chance to see a defense. The one juror who opposed the others (we have her notes) was taken off the panel.
      The judge’s ruling on the tapes had something to do with the evidence having been gathered in Canada. In all the appeals proceedings, the courts have refused to overturn the ruling. I find it strange that defendants from Canada are denied Fifth Amendment rights when the court itself is protected from a violation of Fifth Amendment rights. Neither defendant was read his Miranda rights before ‘confessing’. Another related problem is that the courts held that the information had not been gathered by “persons in authority”. Since the RCMP agents were pretending to be gangsters, they were not the police at that moment in time. Atif has made the point several times that the pressure to ‘confess’ coming from gangsters is far greater than the pressure from a police interrogator. One has no rights at all in the presence of gangsters. Does this make any sense to you? It doesn’t to me.

  49. After seeing the horrible crime scene photos I would never make a joke about those murders, least of all suggest I committed them. Atif actually saw his family, his dead parents, his fatally injured mentally impaired sister still alive and groaning, yet he flippantly made jokes and admits to participating in their killings to virtual strangers? I do not buy it. Guilty as charged.

    • I would make such a joke, and even suggest I did it, if I was convinced that by doing so I could have manufactured evidence and a case against me done away with. (Remember, the “gangsters” convincingly lied about the evidence they had,
      making the young men think a railroading was in process.”

      What I would never do would be to lie to someone for *months* to get him to confess to a murder that I had no evidence he committed. Would you?

      • Not only do I support what you say, but we now have evidence that they would never take no for an answer. Either you told them what they wanted to hear or you were in trouble. The same methodology was used on their friend, Miyoshi. I say unequivocally that, not only are Burns and Rafay innocent, but that the RCMP and the Washington so-called criminal justice system destroyed the lives of three innocent individuals and many people attached to them.
        The truth will out. The process has just begun.

  50. I think these guys are guilty, my reasons for this follow:
    note these are just threads of circumstantial evidence which collectively i feel give weight to the fact that they are guilty.
    1. sebastian stayed at the rafay’s house 5 days prior to the murders – this would ensure any hair found by him was not seen out of the ordinary.
    2. sebastian had used the ‘i was at a movie’ alibi in the past when he crashed his car. note, sebastian told the movie theatre worker there was a curtain dysfunction thereby alerting his presence there. similarly they gave a large tip at the restaurant – i feel these actions made ppl ensure they were noticed giving a solid alibi.
    3.there was just one hair of someone else found at the crime scene. unless the killer was in a boiler suit then you would expect a slew of hair/dna from someone else.
    4. killer clearly wasnt in a boiler suit as why would he need a shower?
    5. the boys said they felt scared of the fake gangsters – if you go through the evidence you will see that sebastian from the outset opts to be a ‘hitman’ for the gangsters. he also says how cool it is being involved with crime.
    6. the undercover cops were verrry clear to not apply pressure, and sebastian once asked if they would kill him if he betrayed him – to which he replied that is not what he does and sebastian is free to walk away.
    7. sebastian would pursue the gangsters, often leaving multiple messages for them to call back.
    8. i believe sebastain is a classic psychopath, he has grandiose ideas – once told the gangsters that ‘he is one of the most intelligent people in the world’, easily lies, and was theatrical in his summing up in court.
    9. jimmy gave details of how the plan came about on a road trip. they toyed with the idea of gassing the house before settling on using a baseball bat.
    10. i think its odd they didnt assist the dying sister when they got home and instead waited outside.

    anyway those are my thoughts.

    • We’re not playing super-sleuth here, Bea. Maybe you’d like to consider your ‘rulings’ here if your son or daughter or brother or sister or maybe a parent was involved, because, you know, a wrongful conviction can happen to anyone who might be at the wrong place at the wrong time and is unguarded enough to talk to the police.
      So, Bea, would you like to see your own son or daughter or whomsoever you love convicted on such a raft of bullshit as you present here, the same nonsense that the prosecutors put forth to the public as evidence of guilt and that a jury, fed on misconceptions, outright fabrications and lies, swallowed whole. I have answered many of these questions in the pages of this blog and I won’t go into all of them here. Your list has nothing to do with legal points or tangible hard evidence that is usually necessary to garner a murder conviction. But I’ll give you credit; you have successfully parroted the police and prosecutors who conspired in this travesty–no, Bea, let’s call it what it is–this atrocity that has deprived two young men of their freedom. So when you locate some real evidence of guilt, Bea, please share it with us so that we can all go on to something else. Otherwise, I’d ask you to please stop treating this as an Agatha Christie parlor mystery. It makes you sound ridiculous.

      • Hi Ken,
        Thanks for your reply – I guess the problem was that there was no other evidence adduced at the crime scene (bar one hair). this in itself is problematic for me…

        I cant get over this fact. surely there would be other DNA at crime scene if it was an intruder? What are your thoughts on this?

        Open to hearing your opinion.

        • There was other evidence like blood in footprints in the garage. Most of the evidence was either not tested or, when it didn’t implicate Burns and Rafay, was declared irrelevant.
          The one hair was a pubic hair found in Mr. Rafay’s bed. I’ve said before in this blog that the police were rubbing their hands, thinking that this piece of evidence would be the clincher, that it surely had to be Sebastian’s when he killed Tariq Rafay in his bed. But the problem for them was that the hair matched no one in the house. So, because it didn’t implicate Atif or Sebastian, it was deemed to be a “stray”. This hair still exists and I hope it’s being further analyzed. DNA techniques now are far more advanced than back in the 90’s. From my information, they can actually determine a person’s ethnic background.
          One piece of evidence that the police and prosecutor initially jumped on was blood from the Rafays on the cuff of Atif’s pants. But he had wandered through a blood-soaked house; they really couldn’t use it as hard evidence, much as they wanted to.

  51. If someone is sent to jail for 297 years you need to be 100% sure they are guilty.

    We can’t say “I think” or “I guess”.

    All this hairs in the shower, etc is guess work.

    All they have in this case is the confession.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but did they not make these confessions because they thought the gangsters were going to help them escape being stitched up by the police. They were teenagers. This confession is not proof of anything.

    • Hi Rob,
      Specifically, the gangsters were going to get the Washington police to destroy the evidence and make the charges go away. The reason the boys believed there was evidence is that a phony newspaper story was shown to them that indicated their DNA was connected to the crime. Of course they knew their DNA was not connected in any way to the crime so they believed that they were being framed.
      Take a look back at “The Confession Tapes” and you’ll see the page in that fraudulent newspaper.

  52. Hi Ken,

    Watched the Netflix documentary last night – trying to remain impartial but I’m finding that incredibly difficult. How were they convicted with such flimsy (at best) evidence? To me it seems their un-likeable personalities was a big factor.

    Few things that trouble me;
    1 – why were the defence not allowed to show portions of the tapes that show how Sebastian Also denied the crimes? (excuse my ignorance on US law)

    2 – the FBI informers information, was this ever followed up ? And why was it not considered at the time?

    3 – their friend Jimmy- surely this must be eating him up with guilt ( if they’re innocent) why has no one put the squeeze on him to get the truth? Would he still be open to prosecution if he decides to speak?

    4 – if the prosecutors are saying that this was planned as a perfect murder by the 2 defendants, why would they then blab and throw that perfect game away? Hypothetically – If they had committed the crime, they would have been home free, and gotten away with murder due to the lack of evidence. What sort of criminal genius would then confess? Makes no sense.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    • Hi Chris,
      Question Number 4: You’ve answered your own question better than I could.

      Question 1: We are not dealing with US law in this particular instance. Apparently, the RCMP has destroyed all of the tapes (5 months worth) save for the moments that implicate them. I gather that they are allowed to do this, so a jury never sees the defendant deny over and over that he had anything to do with the crime.

      Question 2: The judge refused to allow the informant testimony. Too speculative for him. The defense was also said to be cashing in on the emotions engendered by 9/11 when the crime took place in 1994. This was an extraordinarily stupid ruling unless the judge wanted the defendants to be found guilty. What other conclusion can be drawn?

      Question 3: Jimmy is a strange bird but I have no desire to blame or express animosity toward him. Three or four years ago, he went to the Burns’s house to return Sebastian’s skateboard. What does that say? Dave Burns asked him to admit he had lied and, while he refused, I believe Jimmy is living a life that’s filled with guilt and remorse; I mean the RCMP and the Bellevue police ruined his life too. My belief is that he lied in order to avoid being charged as an accomplice. In fact there is no doubt as to that. But if your friends had been tricked into falsely confessing and charged with murder, and you were told that you would receive the same fate if you didn’t give evidence against them, what would you do? Go to jail for 297 years? I know what I would have done.
      Ken

  53. I appreciate the hard work you are putting forth for rafay and burns. It’s been a few days since I finished the first two episodes regarding their case on the Cofession Tapes, and their case haunts me. Can I say definitively that they are innocent, no, but can I say they’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, also no. There are inconsistent stories in the MrBig tapes that cause me to pause and question how the two would have differing stories on something as simple as the murder weapon , making it appear as though they are making it up as they go.

    I also don’t understand the point of questioning or gauging their personal reactions on some undetermined scale of normalcy. People are looking for behaviors to say, “well I’d never do that , and I’m normal , so their behavior isn’t normal , therefore they’re quilty.” But that arguement doesn’t have merit, maybe in the court of public opinion it does, but an actual court room , no. As far a rafay not mentioning his sister, why should he? Is it sad that she was murdered, obviously, but why would he mourn her if he had no real connection with her and he never fostered a relationship with her. If I had lost my dad while I lived with him in High School, I wouldn’t have shed a tear, and would have been grateful to be back living with my mother, doesn’t mean that I would have killed him.

    Finally, I wanted to ask you a question. You seem very close to Rafay, and from my reading he has done as well as can be expected in prison. Sebastian on the other hand has less updates available in terms of life behind bars. From what I have read , rafay benefited from being in less of a harsh prison population based on his size, but Burns hasn’t faired as well. Overall how is Sebastian doing?

    • Hi Lena,
      I think your speculation here is well thought out. You are essentially showing the reason they were convicted, i.e. beased more on who they were rather than evidence of what they did.

      As to your question at the end, I’ll try to answer as best I can. When they were sent to prison, it appears to me that the system thought of Sebastian as the guiltier party and so sent him to prison in Walla Walla where conditions were brutal. Sebastian was, suffice to say, not a favorite among other inmates. He was later sent to Clallum Bay on the Olympic Peninsula. The problem at both prisons was their inaccessibility. His parents were not able to visit on a regular basis. Eventually he was transferred to the same prison complex as Atif but are living in different buildings.

      Sebastian spent many years in solitary (protective custody). Rubin Carter explained something to me that I’ve never forgotten. Wrongly convicted people tend to react to their plight in two opposite ways. 1) They make the best of a horrific situation (and imagine how bad it is to have had your family slaughtered and then be falsely convicted of their murder) like Atif has done and survive through the knowledge of their innocence and their belief that the truth will out. They are courageous and admirable people. But Rubin also knew the opposite reaction. Like Sebastian, he spent the first 8 years in a state of extreme anger. That is perfectly natural. His life as a citizen had been taken away for something he had not done. “Anger only consumes the vessel that contains it,” Rubin famously said. While he was able to turn himself around and survive, Sebastian did not have his reserves of inner strength. Rubin’s other statement on this subject also jumps out at me: “The prison knows what to do with violence. That’s the specialty of the prison. Show them anger and violence and you will pay the price they will exact.” That, Lena, is more or less the sad story.

      • Thank you so much for your reply. I can appreciate just how many comments you must get , especially recently. Thank you again. I hope that there will be some improvements for both Atif and Sebastian.

  54. If Atif and Sebastian are guilty, how come they do not kill Atif’s sister. I would think that if Sebastian killed Atif’s sister for life insurance that he would at least have sealed the deal before calling the police instead of leaving the one witness to testify against him alive. Am I simply missing something here?

    • The answer to your question will remain a mystery, but an uneducated guess is that they may have believed they had killed her and she got up off the floor. She was so badly injured, she died soon thereafter. Since Sebastian did not kill her, the speculation about insurance is irrelevant.

  55. I have no doubt in my mind that Atif and Sebastian did it.

    Firstly, they were fully grown adults. They were 19. Innocent adults, traumatised or not, don’t act in the way they did after the murders.

    Sebastian had a shower after the family were murdered and he has admitted that.
    Why on earth would he do that if he was innocent?!
    Also, the 911 call is the most rehearsed thing I’ve ever heard and I’m not the first one on here to say he would have won an Oscar!

    Sebastian is clearly a controlling person and he took control of Atif. Painting a picture in Atifs head about what it would be like had his family (who he already had issues with) been gone.
    Sebastian stayed in the home a few nights before the murders. Clearly because he was figuring out their nightly routines so they could decide the best way and time to kill them! The boys laughed when they recalled Atifs mentally challenged sister walking around close to death?! How could an innocent Atif see his sister walking around injured and still not help her?

    It was mentioned in the netflix documentary about how it could have been people after the family based on religious reasons. One point mentioned is the position of Sultanas body and how it was faced that way purposely to do with muslim murders. If that’s true the body would have had to be moved.
    There was no blood anywhere around her head. The body wasn’t moved.

    Another reason I believe them to be guilty is the fact that Sebastians lawyer was coming to prison to help him and he should have been paying all the attention he possibly could to see what needed to be done to get out and prove his “innocence”.
    Instead, he’s more interested in having sexual intercourse with his lawyer.
    I’m Sorry, but no matter how old you are, how much youre craving something, if you are on trail for murder and the death penalty is staring you in the face, you will do all your best to help your case and cooperate. The guy has chosen to sleep with his lawyer during their sessions instead of helping his case! The reason he did that is clear. He knows he’s guilty, he knows he’s not getting out, he doesn’t give a damn which is why he decided to have a little fun while he could!
    No innocent person would decide to do that over helping their case to prove their innocence.

    Sebastian was a spolit brat. Atif was a follower. Together, they committed a disgusting murder.
    They were not forced into saying what they said. They openly admitted to it. Yes it wasn’t how it should have been done but at the end of the day, that method has managed to lock up 2 sick people so in my opinion it worked.

    • Hi Grace,
      You appear to have understanding beyond my powers. “No doubt”.
      I question whether they were “fully grown adults” from an emotional perspective. In fact, statistically speaking, 18-19 year old males do more stupid things than any other age group in our society.
      I wouldn’t put credence in anything said to RCMP mobsters because it was all said to impress them.
      “The 911 call is the most rehearsed thing…”. Okay, how would you make the call? Do you know what it would be like to have witnessed what he had witnessed? No, you don’t, Grace.
      “Sebastian is clearly a controlling person and he took control of Atif.” I guess the judge impressed you, but even this judge has doubts about this case 12 years later. You have no doubts, though.
      The sex scandal showed poor judgment whether or not he was guilty or innocent. But not all of us have the self-control you apparently have. By that time, Sebastian had been in prison for nine years (he was incarcerated in Canada before extradition) and his lawyer may have come on to him. I say “may have” because I’ve never met Sebastian due to prison rules. He had been deprived of sexual contact for a crime he had not committed. Who is more responsible, the lawyer or the client? What I am saying here is that his behavior might just as well be taken as a sign of innocence as of guilt. I can’t say one way or the other, except that it was stupid yet understandable.
      You may not think so, but they were forced into saying what they said. It’s clear that you don’t understand the “mechanism” of the sting and why someone would make false statements. Several cases in Canada have already been thrown out on this account. And it’s still illegal to use it in the USA because it involves coercion.
      But you have no doubt. Would that the rest of us could have such certainty!

        • Hi Grace,
          No I did not avoid it; I’ve dealt with it before. First, I urge you to take whatever Sebastian said to the mobsters with a large grain of salt. He was fabricating a story so that they would believe him.
          Here’s what I guess may have happened: the killer(s) went to the shower to wash off the murder weapon, not to wash himself. Sebastian’s hairs were in the shower because he had been living there. The cops thought that Sebastian’s hair along with Mr. Rafay’s blood were sure signs that he had done the murders and that his so-called confessions must have been real. I think my version is more objective because the police were bound and determined to get these guys the moment they saw them. We looked at the case and tried to find holes in Atif’s and Sebastian’s stories. Believe it or not, projects look for reasons not to take on cases; the shower evidence was ridiculous and everybody on both sides knows that.

  56. The show was constantly trying to establish that these two were innocent. so it is Heavily biased. Most important is the testimony of Jimmy Miyoshi.
    Rebuttal 1
    Jimmy Miyoshi, was threatened ?? really with what . If he does not cooperate than the Rafay & Burns are innocent. So how can they implicate Miyoshi, if Rafay and Burns get away? Miyoshi never took part in the crime. It is very difficult to implicate Miyoshi. To tell a potential witness that he will get into trouble, if he did not tell the truth is ‘standard procedure’. But a Fake testimony will also get you in trouble. What if the real killer was found than Miyoshi perjured under oath. Lying under oath is a serious crime. This is just a tactic (from Rafay & Burns lawyers) to discredit a key witness in this case. Any lawyer will and would have told Miyoshi that state has no evidence against him and that if he lies, he will go to prison for 5 years. Plus his testimony will destroy lives of 2 of his friends.

    Rebuttal 2
    The Muslim hit squad story is laughable. Because every Muslim who prays knows or tries to find the Kabba Direction on his own (because they pray in their own house and when they are outside they still need to find it out ). And each and every mosque has people saying that their direction is off, it happens all the time. What is important to note is Tariq rafay (victim) committed no Blasphemy (or what muslims consider Blasphemy). There are plenty of people (muslims included) who have done Blasphemy but have not been attacked in USA or Canada. But why did the religious hit squad killed the wife & an autistic daughter. No reason to kill the daughter. Another laughable suggestion that muslim hit squad moved Sultana’s face towards east. Such can only be said by a person who is not muslim and does not understand.

    Rebuttal 3
    Killing parents for Inheritance and insurance. Has happened before. so No need to say that this is not a valid reason.
    Rebuttal 4
    The crime scene was staged . Drawers opened but not searched, boxes over turned but not searched. Why would a burglar would only take the VCR and a Walkman from the house. Why not Sultana’s jewelry? gold ring etc. No Physical break & entry into the house. Burglars can kill if surprised, but the viciousness and the method clearly showed that murders were planned. Tariq was in his bedroom meaning sultana was killed without much noise (Just as Burns described).
    How did Atif knew that VCR and Walkman are gone but never bothered to check on his sister. who has time to look for a walkman when your whole family is murdered and dying (sister was not dead)
    The fact that the baseball bat was metallic was not publicly known but Sebastion Burns knew.
    The unidentified hair is not grounds for reasonable doubt because we bring hair into our house with our shoes and clothing. it can also belong to a guest or friend that was visiting earlier.
    After watching the show I was convinced that these two did it.

    • 1. Miyoshi had a big problem. He was friends with them and was facing co-conspirator charges. The RCMP threatened him with 99 years and, possibly, the death penalty. (We have this on record.) We have the interrogation on record. Even under that pressure from actual police (this interrogation was done after the murders) he insisted that ‘they never told him’ they were going to kill anyone. He testified in court because he was facing those charges and had little choice. I would have done the same if my 2 friends had ‘confessed’ and implicated me.

      2. Muslim extremist group would have been laughable were it not for three tips that the police failed to follow up on, so convinced were they that they had the right guys. One tip was from an FBI informant (the police confirm this). Another was from an RCMP informant before the murders took place. Another was from the Seattle Police Department (SPD).

      3. Killing parents for inheritance has definitely happened before but the amount of money and the vicious method of killing militates against it being a pair of youths, one the son and brother of the family. Atif was being sent to Cornell University by his parents, was a scholar and totally involved in his studies (as he still is). Knowing him now for ten years, he doesn’t not have an ounce of greed in him.

      4. The crime scene was staged to make it look like a burglary. Yes. Why does that have to be Atif and Sebastian. The specific extremist group that was identified by the FBI informant had staged home invasions like break-ins before. One case, a mother, father and daughter in the Pakistani community were knifed to death in Tacoma. Everything was the same except the method of killing.

      The question you should be asking, Malik, if you believe in justice, is why did the police not follow up on these leads? Thompson, in “The Confession Tapes” said that they didn’t have the time to follow all the leads, even though he knew about the Muslim extremist group. The RCMP sting took five months to garner a ‘confession’. What were the Bellevue police doing in all that time? I am placing below the pre-trial examination of Police Detective Thompson by Sebastian Burns’s lawyer. Tell me what you think.

      JEFF ROBINSON (Burns’s lawyer): 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?
      DETECTIVE THOMPSON: Yes.
      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.
      (BY MR. ROBINSON)
      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.

  57. Thank you for the reply. Wouldn’t you think that Atif’s hair too would have been found in the shower if Sebastian’s was? Given that they both stayed days before and they both most likely have used the shower. Yet only Sebastian’s hair was found mixed with the blood

  58. can you not just privately investigate the names of the people the FBI informant gave from the mosque? or have the police department investigate them? and rule them out? i want to say they are innocent – but the lack of remorse – even the 911 call – it doesnt do them favours!

  59. So, you’re being investigated for murders that you “didn’t commit.” Do you for a second, think that it’s a good idea to associate with organized criminals who make it clear that they have no qualms with murder? Burns’s comfort level with confessed murderers, as much as his actual confession, convinces of his guilt. His sociopathy is obvious.

    Of course you consider their behavior following the murders.

    With regards to the murders being the work of Islamic extremists. The calling card of radical Islamists is to commit crimes to teach the victims, as well as society, a lesson. They want everyone to know that certain behaviors and beliefs will not be tolerated. Yet, in this case there was nothing but crickets following the murders. No messages at the crime scene. Certainly this doesn’t rule out Islamists. But it’s far from indicative, particularly the attempt to make it look like a crime scene. Also, what Islamic extremist, or murderer in general, takes the time to shower in the house where he just perpetrated a triple homicide? Unless they live or are staying there of course?

    May they wallow in torment.

    • “Obvious”. As if you can guess what’s inside his mind. It’s easier to guess what is inside yours because you wrote this. What makes you think that Burns or anyone else took a shower? Because there was blood on the shower floor? Do you think it’s possible, Josh, that the murder weapon might have been washed off there? There would be ample reason for doing that but I don’t know for sure. Maybe a little humility would be as good for you as for me.
      As for comfort with actual murderers, Burns was paid increasingly larger sums of money every time he committed a small crime. His behavior was being shaped or, better, conditioned. I’ll bet that you go to work so that you get a paycheck. Our behavior–you and me both–is shaped in the same way. Are you so certain that you wouldn’t get caught up in the same kind of scheme?
      “His sociopathy is obvious.” Not to me. Where do you get such certainty?
      And wow, your ending is indicative of something inside you. Some little bit of hate and cruelty?

  60. Hi Ken,

    Would you mind giving an update on Sebastian? I understand he has exhausted his appeals, so what options does he have now?

    Thanks

    • Hi Sophia,
      The way I’ve come to understand the appeals system is that it functions to sustain convictions; judges look for any excuse to avoid overturning a jury verdict. That being said, most wrongly convicted prisoners do exhaust their appeals, wasting an ocean of time in the process but keeping a glimmer of hope that some open-minded judge will rescue them.

      Yes, he has exhausted his appeals but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Exonerations generally occur because of new evidence. Most jurisdictions have to accept new evidence, DNA or recanting witnesses or some indisputable new fact; not to do so would place prosecutors and judges in an untenable situation. Even then, of course, they fight tooth and nail against the validity of the new evidence. But this is where public opinion and media can have a huge effect. Since many judges and chief prosecutors in the USA are elected, the risk of sustaining obvious wrongful convictions can become greater than admitting error.

      There have been cases where a sexual assault results in misidentification of the perpetrator and DNA absolves him. However, even there, I have seen where police and prosecutors will say that while so and so did not commit the assault, he must have been in the room. They simply won’t let go of the conviction.

      • I’d imagine the people working on behalf of Atif and Sebastian have spent much time pursuing James Miyoshi over the years in the hopes he might recant his “coerced” testimony. (I use quotations as I really don’t know if this is true or not at this point).

        I also imagine this would not be an easy thing to do with someone of his character and situation. Still, one would think that 20 years and counting after the trial, James might have more incentive to do right by his former best friends and fewer consequences. Do you think I am right about that? What would be some of the reasons Miyoshi might not come forth from a legal standpoint (or personal, if you want to venture a guess).

        • You are entirely correct, Allyson, although we have not pursued him. We do have two hearsay reports about his freely admitting that he lied (for good reason). We also know that, as of five years ago, he was unwilling to come forward. I think that Jimmy has the same inner conflict now as he had before. When I read his interrogation by the RCMP, I am struck by how he tried to walk a tightrope between friendship and his own well being. This eventually proved to be impossible as the choices given to him became starker. I now see him as almost heroic but I don’t expect heroism from the average person; that’s why we honor heroes, after all. Let me say this: the RCMP ruined his life, maybe not to the extent that they ruined Sebastian, Atif, and Sebastian’s family, but they ruined it nonetheless. Imagine walking around every day with the knowledge that your friends are imprisoned on account of what you said and that what you said was false.
          From a legal standpoint, I don’t think there would be any consequences. Witnesses recant all the time. But he may feel that too much water has gone under the bridge at this point to redeem the situation.

          • Wow, I am surprised that no one has contacted him if there are be no legal consequences to a recantation. There must be a very good reason you would only guess at what his state of mind is without at least attempting to go down that avenue. It has been 20 years and counting. Maybe his life is no longer ruined.

          • Well, he lives in Japan and I think he’d like to be as far away from this nightmare as he can possibly be. I honestly don’t think you can recover from something like that unless you have a lot of resiliency. Sure it would be great if he recanted but then he’d have to face up to the damage he has inflicted on his friends’ lives. Whether one can fault him for it is almost irrelevant.

          • I really don’t understand this line of thinking but perhaps I’m missing something…would you want to go to your grave knowing you had the opportunity to right a wrong?
            I have no doubts Miyoshi would be forgiven, as it seemed his friends didn’t put the blame on him in the first place.
            Why not give him the opportunity to do just that?

          • If I saw him, I’d certainly ask. I just feel that his state of mind subsequent to the trial became more and more unpredictable. Were I you, I’d look on his website (James Kira, I think). I haven’t gone there in quite some time but it might give you some idea why we would be reluctant to pursue him.

  61. Wow, this case is mind boggling. Although I can always state my opinions and views on this case, I am choosing not to in this situation because I will reserve that for the experts. That is what they are paid to do. What I will do is ask a few questions to the public as to how they get to their ways of thinking.
    1) How can anyone judge this case when all the evidence and videotapes were not given or investigated?
    2) If you had all the information, videotapes, conversations etc that people spent countless hours in retrieving do you think you would have the same opinions?
    3) Do you think the media had a lot to do with persuading you into thinking the way you do?
    4) Should people be found guilty of murder on behaviors and confessions alone even if they are coincidental or disturbing?
    5) If you were the prime and only suspect of a triple homicide would you want to be held accountable for everything you say and do if you were innocent or even guilty?
    6) We can go on and on as to why this and why that and why not this and why not that, but in the end do we ever really know the full and true story unless we see it with your own eyes?
    7) Do you believe that everyone deserves a fair trial?

    My opinions do not matter here, but I do wish them a fair trial. It is then and only then can they be proven innocent or guilty.

    • I’m happy to post your questions, Maria. I think number 7 is obvious if you don’t live in a totalitarian state.
      I’d like to comment on number 6. When witnesses go up to testify they swear to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ when that is clearly impossible, even IF you see it with your own eyes. Perceptions vary among witnesses who see the same crime committed. The trial ‘verdict’ actually translates from Latin as speaking the truth. The law only pretends to the truth. At best, it can be an instrument used to find truth; at worst it can be used to obscure truth, especially in the post conviction phase.
      This being said, if the facts warrant, someone was killed in a particular way at a particular time. Knowing how, when and why is an imperfect science. That is why the death penalty should be banned. The death penalty is a perfect punishment but the world we live in (the people who inahbit that world) are imperfect.

  62. Scott Peterson was convicted with zero forensic evidence, no confession, and some of the evidence that the prosecution presented against him was totally bogus. Should he go free too?

    • Hi Leonard,
      My knowledge of the Peterson case is fairly superficial, about as much as the average citizen. I do know that there are uncanny parallels between his case and Burns/Rafay. The media played a large role in demonizing these defendants. The lack of forensic evidence is notable in both cases and the issue of juror prejudice was also a factor. From what I can see, I would say that Peterson’s conviction was based primarily on circumstantial evidence, evidence that appeared to be a bit more coherent and persuasive than Burns/Rafay but only a bit. The falsified evidence–or evidence that is not really evidence–nullifies much of the circumstantial evidence against Peterson.

      From my superficial vantage point, I would agree that Peterson was improperly convicted. I would not hazard a guess as to his guilt or innocence but the trial seemed faulty to me. In Burns/Rafay, the trial was definitely faulty (the judge disallowed the evidence needed to defend themselves) and the means of gathering evidence was outrageous and unconstitutional.) But yes, since Peterson’s trial also seemed prejudicial and affected by the media circus, I would say he should also have a new one. The lack of forensic evidence and the amount of assumptions and guessing in both cases are disturbing.

  63. Hi Ken you said that Sebastien repeatedly denied involvement during the taped confessions, yet in the “confession tapes” the only denial seemed to be haslet misunderstanding what sebastien was saying or the other way around. It did not sound like an outright denial. In any case Haslet was on the witness stand saying that he did not deny it at any time. Now if you have any evidence of denials. Would it not be perjurious? What are your thoughts

    • One of the problems of this case is that Sebastian was targeted for five months, during which he was taped and otherwise spied upon. What the jury got to see was the end point, the so-called confession, which we are certain was a fabrication made to satisfy the gangsters. But Sebastian denied killing the Rafays for five months. I actually think that what you see on tape might qualify as a confession if that was all that took place. The mistake that the jury and others make is thinking that because the process took so long, that the final hours are all that matter. The reasoning I’ve heard is that the defendant has been holding back and finally confesses when his resistance is broken. But the confession is no more or less real if it comes at the end or the beginning. That’s all they will show you. The rest of the tapes are destroyed.

      The RCMP lying and perjuring themselves? Take a look at the Djekanski case and the Ian Bush case and many others. They lie all the time, I’m sorry to say. Which is not to say that ‘they’ are all bad. In fact, the majority of RCMP officers, of course, are hard-working and decent people. The minority are unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of their power; there are more of them than they would care to acknowledge.

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