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Maine man sentenced in decades-old Alaska cold case

A judge sentenced Steven Downs of Auburn to 75 years in prison for the 1993 rape and murder of Sophie Sergie.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A Maine man charged in connection with a 1993 rape and murder in Alaska was sentenced to 75 years in prison on Monday.

Steven Downs, 47, of Auburn, was a freshman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993 and a dorm resident where 20-year-old Sophie Sergie was found dead in a bathtub.

29 years later, Downs was convicted of the crimes in February after DNA evidence tied him to the case.

His aunt submitted her own DNA to a genealogy service which allowed investigators to connect Downs to DNA found on Sergie's body in 2019.

Sergie was raped, shot, and stabbed, according to investigators.

Prosecutors said in court Monday that she was a "young vibrant woman" when citing the impact her death had on her family and the Fairbanks community.

Downs' attorney argued that the murder was not premeditated.

A judge denied a new trial in February after Downs' lawyer claimed the prosecution engaged in "serious prosecutorial misconduct, perjured testimony, and other wrongful behavior."

Downs could be granted parole in as little as 25 years, the judge said. His attorney said he plans to appeal. 

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