Judge denies Steven Downs’ claim that his rights to a speedy trial were violated

Steven Downs appears in a Fairbanks court for a hearing on whether his rights to a speedy trial were violated by delays in transporting him to Alaska. (John Dougherty/KTVF)

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) A judge has ruled that Steven Downs' rights to a speedy trial were not violated by delays in transporting him from Maine to Alaska.

According to Alaska Criminal Rule 45, the prosecution has 120 days to bring someone to trial. It took 82 days to transport Downs to Alaska. Attorney James Howaniec had been arguing that the delay made it impossible to bring the case to trial in 120 days.

Judge Temple heard testimony from an Alaska State Trooper and U.S. Marshall regarding what caused the delays and agreed with the State that because of extenuating circumstances in transporting Downs, Rule 45 was not violated.

U.S. Marshall, John Lajeunesse testified that there were at least two mechanical issues with the Aircraft used to transport Downs to Alaska that delayed him arriving, and also that one of the facilities that Downs was housed at was under a medical quarantine on the day that Downs was supposed to be transported, which further delayed his transport.

Howaniec said in a text statement, “We’re not troubled by the decision. We are happy that we’ll be moving forward on our motions to dismiss and suppress evidence in April.”

Those hearings on the motions are set for the week of April 13.

Downs has been charged in the homicide of Sophie Sergie in 1993. Sergie was found dead in a Bathtub of a University of Alaska Fairbanks dorm bathroom, with gunshots and stab wounds, it was also determined that she was raped. Downs was arrested in Maine in February of 2019.

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