Two men sentenced to life in prison without parole for triple murder of one's parents and sister

Friday, October 22nd 2004, 9:08 pm
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Two Canadian men were each sentenced Friday to three consecutive life prison terms for the bludgeoning deaths of one of the men's parents and sister 10 years ago.

A jury convicted Atif Rafay and Glen Sebastian Burns in May of three counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of the Rafay family members. Prosecutors said the motive was money.

The life sentences carry no possibility of parole.

Lawyers for both men said they plan to appeal.

``We've been tried, we've been convicted for something we didn't do. We're still waiting for our day in court,'' Burns said, keeping his back to King County Judge Charles W. Mertel and prosecutors.

Mertel chastised Burns for lack of remorse, calling him ``an arrogant convicted killer.''

Rafay also maintained his innocence, saying the loss of his parents and sister has caused him great anguish.

Burns and Rafay were in their late teens when they fled to Vancouver, British Columbia, shortly after reporting they had found Tariq and Sultana Rafay and their 20-year-old daughter, Basma, beaten to death in the Rafay's suburban Bellevue home in July 1994.

Prosecutors alleged Burns, now 29, wielded the aluminum bat used in the killings, and that he and Rafay, 28, planned the murders for money.

The two were arrested in Vancouver in August 1995, the same month that the family estate, valued at about $300,000, was turned over to Rafay, who had just completed his first year at Cornell University.

For years, Canadian authorities refused to send them back to Washington because of the possibility of their execution. The two were finally returned in 2001, after the King County prosecutor agreed not to seek the death penalty.

Defense lawyers insisted that the two merely found the bodies when they returned from a movie, and that police had focused too much on Burns and Rafay and not enough on other suspects.

Canadian police planted bugs in the defendants' home and car _ tactics that were legal in Canada but would not have been allowed in the United States _ and agents posed as gangsters to obtain taped confessions from the two before arresting them.

A lawyer for Burns sought to bar the videotaped confession from trial, but Mertel allowed it, saying if the methods were legal in Canada they were admissible under international treaty.

Burns was appointed new counsel after jail guards reported seeing him having sexual contact in jail with a previous lawyer, Theresa Olson. The state bar association plans to consider sanctions against Olson, who previously admitted the contact but now denies it.