Atif and Sebastian

Atif and Sebastian lived in Vancouver
That’s where they were from
Atif’s family moved to the USA
And Sebastian thought he’d come
They both went off to college
Atif to Cornell
What would happen at the end of his freshman year
Who on Earth could foretell

Atif and Sebastian went to a movie
And to get some food to eat
Then they drove back home
To that suburban Bellevue street
Inside what they saw
Was far too much to understand
That such acts could be carried out
By a human hand

Atif’s parents had been bludgeoned
Blood and brains were everywhere
And beneath the shawl
Upon his mother’s matted hair
They asked the skies above
How could such a thing be done
Then the two boys picked up the phone
And they called 9-1-1

Atif’s father he had enemies
Who wanted him dead it seems
But from the time the cops arrived
Upon this gruesome scene
The only suspects they considered
Were Sebastian and Atif
They questioned them for days
Amidst their shock and disbelief

Without a bit of evidence
They blamed them for this crime
Though there were witnesses to prove
They were elsewhere at the time
They had gone across the bridge
To Seattle’s downtown core
And someone else’s DNA
Was found amidst the blood upon the floor

Whose DNA was that?
The Bellevue cops just didn’t care
Though Atif’s father’s friend would soon
Have his awful fate to share
Just like Atif’s dad
He had a contract on his head
And a few scant years later
He also turned up dead

The cops didn’t have the evidence
So they wiretapped a session
With undercover thugs
To scare up a confession
The stories didn’t match up
The kids were terrified, they lied
So the cops just changed their story
To make it match the way the family died

The judge and prosecution
Just like the cops, they had no shame
And entrapment and coercion
Was the name of this railroad game
The trial was a sham
And the jury took the bait
And now Atif and Sebastian
Are living out their fate

Serving up their lives
In maximum security
While the real killers
Are somewhere running free
Some might call this justice
I don’t know about you
I call it putting innocent men in prison
For a crime they didn’t do

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A song version of this piece originally appeared online. As a poem, “Atif and Sebastian” first appeared on the 2010 CD, Ten Thousand Miles Away. It’s about two young Canadian men, Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns, who were living in Bellevue, Washington at the time that Atif Rafay’s parents and sister were violently killed one night. Atif and Sebastian were entrapped and terrified into confessing to murders they didn’t commit, and are currently still in prison.