Downs’ defense lawyer explains extradition to Alaska

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska Steven Downs is accused of raping and murdering Sophie Sergie at UAF in 1993.

Steven Downs appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn, Maine on Wednesday morning March 20, 2019 during his extradition hearing. Sun Journal file photo by Russ Dillingham

Downs had been fighting extradition to Alaska but according to the Sun Journal, Downs withdrew his petition contesting extradition this morning in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

They also report that Downs’ parents have hired local defense attorney Frank Spaulding and Maine attorneys James Howaniec & Jesse Archer to represent Downs.

“I took the case chiefly because I believe everybody has the right to a good defense,” Spaulding said. “This guy wants a good defense so I am going to do everything I can to make sure he gets one.”

Spaulding said in an interview that Downs’ attorney in Maine initially fought the extradition because they were not qualified to appear in court for him in Alaska. They contacted Spaulding to help in that process. Now that they have been approved they waved extradition.

Spaulding said, Howaniec will be the lead attorney in the case and will work closely with him and Archer to give Downs the best defense possible.

According to Spaulding, he will be working very closely on the case to what degree and what capacity is still a subject of discussion.

Spaulding has not had a chance to review the case and has yet to meet Downs. He says they are still at the very early stages of the case and are working on building their defense.

Justice Robert Clifford gave Alaskan authorities 30 days to pick up Downs. We were unable to reach the Office of Special Prosecution for details on when they plan to extradite Downs. Spaulding said he expects that he should be in Alaska within the next 10 days.

Downs was arrested in February of this year after Alaska State Troopers investigators used DNA technology to find him. The case had been cold for decades; troopers had a sample of DNA from Sergie but were unable to find a match. However, new technology allowed them to match part of the DNA to Downs’ aunt. From there they were able to identify Downs as a suspect

Downs was a student at UAF at the time of the murder. He told investigators that he was with his girlfriend at the time of the crime. After Sergie was murdered Downs continued to study at UAF. He then went on to nursing school after graduating from UAF and worked as a nurse in Maine.