Maine man appeals Alaska murder, sexual assault charges

A woman poses in a jacket outside.
Sophie Sergie (Photo courtesy of Alaska State Troopers)

A Maine man who was convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a woman in Alaska in 1993 is appealing his convictions and sentences.

Steven H. Downs, 48, filed a notice of his appeal Monday with the Alaska Court of Appeals, the Sun Journal newspaper reported.

A jury in February found Downs guilty of murder and sexual assault in the death of Sophie Sergie in a dorm on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus in 1993. He was later sentenced to 75 years in prison.

Sergie’s death baffled investigators until a DNA match using genetic genealogy tracing led them to Downs, who was arrested in 2019 in Maine. Downs was a UAF freshman in 1993 and lived in the dorm where Sergie was found dead.

On Monday, lawyers for Downs, who represented him during pre-trial hearings, at trial and at sentencing, filed a motion to withdraw as his attorneys. The filing states that Downs lacks the funds to retain legal counsel for his appeals.

Downs is seeking representation from the Alaska Public Defender Agency for his appeals.

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