September 17, 2019
Lewiston-Auburn Latest News | Farmington Explosion | Bangor Metro | Homelessness | Today's Paper

Maine man ‘categorically’ denies involvement in 1993 Alaska homicide

Andree Kehn | Sun Journal via AP
Andree Kehn | Sun Journal via AP
Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn right, stands for his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston, Feb. 19, 2019. Downs has been charged with the 1993 rape and murder of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Standing with Downs is Attorney Richard Charest.

An Auburn nurse accused of raping and killing an Alaska woman in 1993 denied any involvement on Tuesday.

A lawyer for Steven H. Downs, 44, filed a petition in district court in Lewiston contesting Downs’ extradition to Alaska, according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

In the petition, Lewiston lawyer James Howaniec said Downs “categorically denies any involvement” in the death of Sophie Sergie, 20, in April 1993 at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, where prosecutors say Downs attended school from 1993 to 1996, according to the Sun Journal.

[How Alaska police captured a Maine man suspected in a 25-year-old cold case]

Sergie, an aspiring marine biologist, was a student at the university but left to save money, according to the Washington Post. Sergie was visiting a friend at the university in April 1993 when her body was found in a dormitory bathtub.

DNA evidence was recovered from the crime scene, but DNA processing technology wouldn’t be introduced in Alaska until seven years later.

Police did not reportedly match the DNA to Downs until this month, after a forensic genealogist discovered similarities to Downs’ aunt’s, which had been collected in a public database used to research family heritage, according to the Washington Post. He was arrested in Auburn on Feb. 15.

Howaniec also said Downs has received little information from Alaska authorities about the charges against him, the Journal reports. He also contends that documents filed to support a fugitive from justice charge don’t comply with Maine law.

[Maine man arrested for 1993 Alaska murder was fired from nursing job after making co-workers ‘uncomfortable’]

Downs, a registered nurse, was issued a warning for unprofessional behavior from the Maine nursing board after the Livermore Falls care facility where he had been working fired him, according to public records.

In a consent agreement with Downs signed in March 2017, the Maine State Board of Nursing notes that the Harris House in Livermore Falls dismissed him the previous year for “a totality of substandard performance,” including unspecific comments that made female co-workers “uncomfortable.”

 



Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

You may also like