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Maine man charged in Alaska cold case denies involvement

February 26, 2019
Steven Downs, 44, of Auburn, Maine, right, stands for his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston, Maine, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Downs has been charged with the 1993 rape and murder of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Standing with Downs is Attorney Richard Charest. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal via AP)

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — The lawyer for a Maine man charged with killing a woman 26 years ago in Alaska says his client “categorically denies any involvement.”

The Sun Journal reports Steven H. Downs’ attorney filed the court document Tuesday contesting extradition to Alaska.

Alaska authorities charged Downs in the 1993 sexual assault and killing of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He was arrested two weeks ago in Auburn, Maine.

Downs, who was a Fairbanks student at the time, was linked to the crime by DNA, and is charged with being a fugitive from justice.

Defense lawyer James Howaniec said documents provided by Alaska law enforcement officials don’t comply with Maine law. He said Downs knows little about the charges beyond what he reads in the media. He’s due in court in March.

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