Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Men and Supermen: The Nietzsche Syndrome

Arrogance or Fear?

In April, an undercover officer from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police contacted Burns outside a hair salon in North Vancouver. He told the man that he and Rafay had written a screenplay, "The Great Despisers," about two boys involved in a murder. The undercover operative persuaded Burns to believe they could get funding via a criminal organization. Both young men, and their friend, Jimmy Miyoshi, agreed to engage in what they believed were several criminal enterprises for cash. The undercover police then said they knew that the boys had murdered the Rafays and produced phony documents indicating that the police now had evidence against them. In exchange for getting rid of this document, the officers said, they wanted to hear the boys confess to the crimes. And on tape, Burns did, claming he had done the entire thing alone, but later he said that he had confessed because he believed that if he didn't, he would have been killed. Rafay indicated that he'd been there as well, and had staged the break-in.

By the end of that month, both young men were under arrest, charged with three counts of aggravated first-degree murder. But it wouldn't be easy to get them to the States. Washington State had a death penalty and Canada did not. That placed the case in legal limbo for years as the two countries considered their options.

The U.S. argued in a British Columbia court to extradite the young men for trial, and on February 2, 1996, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ruled that there was sufficient evidence to do so. But their defense attorneys petitioned for a legal review. In July, Justice Minister Allen Rock ordered the extradition. Nearly a year later, a three-judge panel on the appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional to surrender a Canadian citizen to stand trial in a country where he might face the death penalty. Justice Minister Rock had neglected to get any such guarantees. Canada's Supreme Court heard the arguments and by 1999, they still weren't sure. A second round of hearings produced a decision not to extradite the suspects without guarantees in place, so the King County prosecutor said that he would not seek the death penalty. That opened the door for the young men, now 28, to have their day in court.