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Sunday, November 16, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Timeline: How triple-homicide case became an international incident

The home in Bellevue's Somerset neighborhood where Tariq and Sultana Rafay were found dead and Basma Rafay mortally wounded July 13, 1994.
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July 13

Sebastian Burns calls Bellevue police at 2 a.m. Atif Rafay's parents, Tariq and Sultana, are found dead in separate rooms; his sister, Basma Rafay, is critically injured and dies later that morning.

July 14

Deaths ruled homicides. Rafays were bludgeoned to death; Bellevue police identify Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns as "persons of interest."

July 15

Burns and Rafay, both Canadian citizens, take a bus to Canada the same day as funeral services for the Rafay family.



Police say Burns and Rafay are suspects in the slayings.

April 11

Royal Canadian Mounted Police undercover detective contacts Burns outside North Vancouver barbershop.

July 11

DNA obtained from Burns, but police won't say how.

July 19

RCMP undercover officers meet Rafay.

July 31

Rafay and Burns arrested at their rental home in Vancouver suburb; each charged in King County with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder.


Jan. 22

Extradition arguments are heard in Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Feb. 2

B.C. judge rules there's sufficient evidence to extradite Burns and Rafay. Defense attorneys later petition B.C.'s Court of Appeal, seeking judicial review.

July 12

Canadian Justice Minister Allan Rock orders extradition of Rafay and Burns without asking for assurances that the two will be spared the death penalty.


May 12

A three-judge panel of the B.C. appeals court begins hearings on defendants' petition seeking review of the extradition order.

June 29

The Court of Appeal rules it is unconstitutional to surrender a Canadian citizen to stand trial in another country where he could face the death penalty.

Dec. 4

The Supreme Court of Canada agrees to hear arguments in the Burns and Rafay extradition case.



Supreme Court hearings are delayed after Amnesty International intervenes in the case, arguing the men's rights under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms would be violated if they were put to death in Washington.



Supreme Court of Canada begins extradition hearings. Justices are unable to decide if defendants should be sent back to Washington state.


May 23

Second round of extradition hearings is held before the Supreme Court of Canada.


Feb. 15

Supreme Court of Canada unanimously rules that Rafay and Burns can't be extradited to the United States without a guarantee they won't be executed.

March 9

Norm Maleng
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng announces he won't seek the death penalty.

March 29

Rafay and Burns brought back to Washington and booked into King County Jail.

April 6

Defendants plead not guilty to three counts of aggravated first-degree murder.


April 8

Superior Court Judge Charles Mertel dismisses Rafay's public defenders, Gary Davis and Jim Koenig; moves trial date from May 2002 to March 2003.

Aug. 10

Theresa Olson
Guards report seeing public defender Theresa Olson having sex with Burns in jail conference room.

Aug. 14

Judge Mertel dismisses Olson from the case.

Aug. 20

Mertel dismisses Olson's co-counsel, Neil Fox; orders new attorneys be appointed for Burns.

Aug. 27

Jeff Robinson and Song Richardson, from the law firm Schroeter, Goldmark and Bender, are appointed to represent Burns.


April 22

Pretrial hearings begin into the admissibility of evidence collected by Canadian police.

Sept. 30

Mertel rejects defense motion to suppress evidence gathered by Canadian officials.

Oct. 13

Jury selection begins.


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