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Crime & Courts

Man charged in 1993 Fairbanks sex assault and killing pleads not guilty

Steven Downs is led into a courtroom for arraignment, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. An attorney entered not-guilty pleas for Downs, who is charged in the 1993 sexual assault and murder of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Authorities say DNA linked Downs to the crime. He was arrested in February in Maine and fought extradition to Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

A Maine man has pleaded not guilty to sexual assault and murder charges in the death of a woman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks 26 years ago.

Steven Downs made his first Alaska court appearance Tuesday. He was arrested in February in Maine but had contested extradition.

Maine defense lawyer James Howaniec appeared telephonically and entered the not guilty pleas on Downs’ behalf. Downs, wearing yellow prison garb, appeared in the courtroom for arraignment.

Judge Andrew Peterson set bail at a total of $1 million. The next hearing will be Aug. 14 in Fairbanks.

Downs is charged in the 1993 sexual assault and killing of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie on the Fairbanks campus, where he was then a student.

Alaska authorities say DNA linked him to the crime.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Sophie Sergie. (Alaska State Troopers / Handout)

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