In 1963, Burns drove the getaway car after a bank robbery in Sacramento, California. One of the robbers shot and killed a police officer, resulting in felony murder convictions for the three robbers. They were sentenced to life in prison.
At the time of the robbery, Burns was on parole for a crime in Oregon.
California transferred Burns to Oregon to serve out the remainder of his Oregon conviction. Oregon, however, inexplicably released Burns after he had served his time in that state, rather than returning him to California to serve out the remainder of his life sentence there.
California lost track of Burns until 2001. Finding his name on a list of fugitives, California officials demanded that Burns be returned to serve out his sentence.
Oregon, however, felt that Burns had rehabilitated himself and was living an honest life, and refused to extradite him.
Burns died on January 22, 2002 without having been returned to California.