In this Feb. 19, 2019 photo, Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, right, stands for his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston, Maine. (Andree Kehn | Sun Journal File)

In this Feb. 19, 2019 photo, Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, right, stands for his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston, Maine. (Andree Kehn | Sun Journal File)

Man set to be extradited in decades-old Fairbanks cold case

Steven Downs, 44, is charged with murder of 20-year-old woman at university in 1993

LEWISTON, Maine — Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a warrant allowing the extradition of a man who is wanted in Alaska to face charges he sexually assaulted and killed a woman more than two decades ago.

But Steven Downs, 44, will likely challenge the governor’s warrant as he seeks additional time to get his personal and legal affairs in order for his eventual extradition to Alaska for trial, defense attorney James Howaniec said Thursday.

Downs is charged with the assault and murder of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993, when Downs was a student and Sergie was a former student.

Sergie was sexually assaulted, shot in the head and stabbed multiple times. Her body was found on the morning of April 26, 1993, in a dormitory bathtub.

The case went unsolved for years before DNA evidence led to Downs’ arrest in February. Since then, he’s been held without bail on a fugitive from justice charge.

Downs has denied any involvement in the crime and contends he was with his girlfriend when Sergie was killed, Howaniec said.

“He’s completely flabbergasted by these charges. He adamantly denies any involvement in this crime. We want to step back and assess the situation,” he said.

The next court date is on May 20.

There’s no doubt Downs will be extradited to Alaska to stand trial, but Howaniec said he’s exercising his right to contest extradition to be as prepared as possible.

Howaniec and another attorney, Jesse Archer, are going through the steps necessary to represent Downs in Alaska and to begin the discovery process.


• This is an Associated Press report.


More in News

This photo shows the National Archives in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle that has about a million boxes of generally unique, original source documents and public records. In an announcement made Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Biden administration has halted the sale of the federal archives building in Seattle, following months of opposition from people across the Pacific Northwest and a lawsuit by the Washington Attorney General's Office. Among the records at the center are tribal, military, land, court, tax and census documents. (Alan Berner / The Seattle Times)
Biden halts sale of National Archives center in Seattle

Tribes and members of Congress pushed for the halt.

This photo shows Unangax̂ Gravesite at Funter Bay, the site where Aleut villagers forcibly relocated to the area during World War II are buried. A bill recently passed by the Alaska House of Representatives would make the area part of a neighboring state park. (Courtesy photo / Niko Sanguinetti, Juneau-Douglas City Museum) 
DO NOT REUSE THIS PHOTO WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM JUNEAU DOUGLAS CITY MUSEUM. -BEN HOHENSTATT
Bill to preserve Unangax̂ Gravesite passes House

Bill now heads to the state Senate.

After over 30 years at 3100 Channel Drive, the Juneau Empire offices are on the move. (Ben Hohenstatt /Juneau Empire File)
The Juneau Empire is on the move

Advertising and editorial staff are moving to Jordan Creek Center.

The state announced this week that studded tires will be allowed for longer than usual. In Southeast Alaska, studded tires will be allowed until May 1 instead of April 15. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
State extends studded tire deadline

Prolonged wintry weather triggers the change.

COVID at a glance for Monday, April 12

The most recent state and local numbers.

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Sunday, April 11, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Court sides with Dunleavy in appointments dispute

The court, in a brief order, reversed a ruling by a superior court judge.

The Juneau Police Department are seeking Brenda Jay Gallant, 40, after she was indicted recently for her alleged role in a 2021 vehicle arson. (Courtesy photo / JPD)
Police seeking woman indicted for arson

The indictment for the August fire came this March.

Most Read