Maine man pleads not guilty in 1993 rape, murder of Alaska woman; bail kept at $1M

A Maine man charged in a 26-year-old cold case rape and murder of a Native woman in Alaska pleaded not guilty in a Fairbanks courtroom Thursday.

But at a hearing Friday, a judge kept the bail for defendant Steven Downs at $1 million despite his defense attorney's efforts to get it reduced.

“We’re not surprised by the outcome," his attorney said, according to the Sun Journal. “We’re talking about a serious homicide here and the individual here has no current connections to the state of Alaska.”

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Downs, 44, was arrested outside his home in February after new DNA evidence linked him to the 1993 killing of Sophie Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which he attended from 1992 to 1996.

​​​​​​​Steven Downs is led into a courtroom for arraignment in Anchorage, Alaska, Aug. 6, 2019. (Associated Press)

​​​​​​​Steven Downs is led into a courtroom for arraignment in Anchorage, Alaska, Aug. 6, 2019. (Associated Press)

The DNA was linked through Downs’ aunt who had submitted a sample to a genealogy website.

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Sergie was found sexually assaulted, stabbed and shot in the back of the head in a bathtub at the university dorm where Downs lived.

Her mother participated in the arraignment via phone through a Yupik language interpreter and asked if Downs was going to be “let out.”

“We fully expected there would be no change to the bail, but it was a good opportunity for us to advance some of our concerns about the evidence in this case,” his attorney said, the Sun Journal reported.

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Sergie's family attended the bail hearing and advocated for keeping it at $1 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.