Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay Who Continue To Serve Their Lengthy Sentences Will Now Take Their Appeal To The Supreme Court!
SEATTLE – The killers of a South Asian family, originally from Vancouver, murdered in the Seattle area had their appeals rejected.
Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay, both serving lengthy life sentences in Washington state, argued their convictions for the July 1994 slayings of Rafay’s parents and disabled sister should be thrown out because much of the evidence was from a so-called Mr. Big sting called Project Estate conducted by the RCMP.
Lawyers for Burns and Rafay argued details from such stings are not admissible in U.S. courts and the men, who were 18 at the time of the killings, were coerced into admitting to the murders.
But a panel of three judges has ruled proper U.S. legal standards were applied in accepting the sting evidence and that a lower court was right to decide Burns and Rafay confessed voluntarily.
“Viewed in their entirety, the circumstances in the case, including the defendants’ private conversations, their participation in the scenarios leading up to the confessions, and their conduct and statements during the confessions themselves, indicate that Project Estate did not vitiate the defendants’ ability to make independent or rational decisions or otherwise overcome their will,” the judges said in their written ruling.
Hours of audio and video recordings made in the men’s house and during various scenarios provide a “uniquely rich context for assessing the effect of the undercover operations on the defendants.”
But Rafay and Burns will now take their case to the Washington State Supreme Court.
Rafay’s lawyer David Koch says they disagree with the decision of the lower court, and they’re asking the state’s highest court to review it.
Burns and Rafay are each serving three consecutive life terms for the murders, but have been spared the death penalty because of an extradition arrangement that returned them to Washington state in 2001.
They became friends while attending high school in West Vancouver and the jury at the men’s six-month trial was told Rafay was motivated by money and planned the slayings while Burns carried them out.
The two men, who’d been visiting Rafay’s family in Bellevue, Wash., told police they returned to the house at about 2 a.m. on July 14, 1994 and found Rafay’s relatives dead after an apparent break-in.
They returned to Vancouver a few days later without attending the family’s funeral.