Former UAF roommate of Steven Downs takes the stand in Sophie Sergie murder trial

An image of a man behind a desk in a courtroom.
Nicholas Dazer, now an attorney in Oregon, answers questions in the trial of his former UAF roommate, Steven Downs. Prior permission to use this image was obtained from Fairbanks Superior Court. (screenshot)

Nicholas Dazer was roommates and best friends with Steven Downs when they were students at University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993.

Twenty-eight years later, Downs is on trial for the killing of 20-year old Sophie Sergie in a UAF dorm.

Dazer, now an attorney in Oregon, took the stand in the trial on Monday. He said he met Downs while they were moving into the third floor of Bartlett Hall in 1992. The 18 year olds got along well — studying, playing music and partying together, he said.

Dazer said they stayed close throughout their years at UAF.

“I’ve always considered him a very good friend, probably in Fairbanks at the time, my best friend,” Dazer said. “He was in my wedding in 1998 in Portland. I asked him to be a groomsman at my wedding and he was.”

The men would go hunting and fishing together. And as upperclassmen, they lived near each other in cabins off campus with their respective girlfriends.

In Spring 1993, Dazer said he worked a student job as a community service officer, patrolling the campus on foot. Prosecutors reviewed the logs from the overnight shifts Dazer worked on Sunday and Monday, April 25 and 26. Sergie’s body was found April 26.

RELATED: Former UAF students describe what they heard and saw in dorm in 1993 before Sophie Sergie was found dead

Dazer had a normal patrol of lower campus on April 25. But the next night, he was helping the University Police Department and Alaska State Troopers with keeping people away from the bathroom murder scene, guarding a stairwell.

Defense attorney James Howaniec asked him if he learned much about the crime.

“No, law enforcement was not talking to me,” Dazer said.

“And you never went inside the bathroom?” asked Howaniec.

“I never crossed the threshold,” said Dazer.

RELATED: Investigators testify about losing potential witnesses after 1993 UAF campus murder

He was later assigned to walk around and patrol the dorm complex.

“In the days following, we were encouraged to work as much as we possibly could because the campus wanted to put out presence of law enforcement types because everyone was freaked out,” he said.

Dazer said he could not imagine a connection between Downs and the crime. He described his roommate as gregarious and popular with many friends. By the spring semester, Downs was spending more time with his girlfriend, who lived on the fourth floor of the dorm.

Dazer told Howaniec he had not thought much about the crime in the years afterward, until 2010, when two Alaska State Troopers called him in and interviewed him at the Oregon law firm where he worked then.

“I believe they asked me, did your roommate have any guns?” said Dazer.

“And you said he had an H&R .22?” said Howaniec.

“Right. And a derringer,” said Dazer.

Howaniec showed Dazer a photo of a .22 caliber pistol the state says could be the murder weapon. It was taken from Downs’ house in Maine. Dazer said he remembered Downs’ gun having flat sides, not rounded like the gun in the photograph. When questioned by prosecutors, he said he may be misremembering.

The court is broadcasting the proceedings on its website. Prior permission was granted for this recording for use in our coverage.

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