Maine man arrested in cold case contests extradition

    Lewiston, Maine (AP) - A Maine man charged with killing a woman 26 years ago in Alaska signaled his intention to contest extradition on Tuesday and said through a lawyer that he is innocent of the charges.

    Steven Downs, of Auburn, Maine, made his intentions known in the first court appearance since his Friday arrest. A judge ordered him held without bail pending another hearing scheduled for March 18.

    Alaska authorities charged Downs in the 1993 sexual assault and killing of 20-year-old Sophie Sergie, whose body was found in a dorm bathtub at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Downs, now 44, was a student at the time, and Sergie was a former student.

    Downs appeared in court in handcuffs and a tan prison outfit during a brief court appearance Tuesday. Prosecutors said during the appearance that the Maine state crime lab has indicated genetic material recovered during the processing of Sergie's body is a match to Downs. Alaska police zeroed in on Downs after DNA submitted by his aunt on a genealogical website was linked to DNA from the crime scene.

    Richard Charest, an attorney who represented Downs on Tuesday, said Downs is a registered nurse who is not currently working. He called the charges "a very old allegation" and said Downs "thinks there must be some kind of mistake."

    Prosecutors said it's possible Downs' opposition to extradition could be resolved at the March 18 court appearance.

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