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Man charged in Alaska cold case enters pleas of not guilty

August 7, 2019
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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)
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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)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — 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-based defense lawyer James Howaniec (huh-WAHN-ick) appeared telephonically and entered the not guilty pleas on Downs’ behalf. Downs, wearing yellow prison garb, appeared in the courtroom for the arraignment.

Judge Andrew Peterson set bail at $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.

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