Maine man sentenced for 1993 rape, murder of woman in Alaska

September 27, 2022 GMT

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A man convicted in a rape and murder at a University of Alaska Fairbanks dormitory that went unsolved for more than two decades was sentenced to 75 years in prison in Alaska.

Steven Downs, of Auburn, Maine, declined to address the courtroom before the just imposed the sentence Monday.

The killing of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie in 1993 stymied 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.

The defense contended any sentence greater than 20 years would be a life sentence because of Downs’ health. He exceeds 400 pounds (181 kilograms) and has high blood pressure, his attorney said.

Downs, 48, will be eligible for discretionary parole after 25 years, the Sun Journal newspaper reported.

Prosecutors said Downs showed no remorse. Sergie was sexually assaulted, shot in head and stabbed multiple times, officials said.

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Sergie was a former UAF student but was not enrolled when she went to stay with a friend who lived in the dorm. She was last seen when she left to smoke a cigarette and her friend suggested she smoke near exhaust vents in the women’s shower room to avoid the cold outside, the court papers said.

Janitors found Sergie’s body in a bathtub in the shower room on the afternoon of April 26, 1993.