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Attorneys for Steven Downs attempt to get indictment dismissed

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 5:55 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Today is the forth day of evidentiary hearings for Steven Downs, the Maine man accused of the rape and murder of Sophie Sergie at UAF in 1993. Attorneys for Downs and the State finished litigating a motion to suppress evidence and began arguing on a motion to dismiss the indictments filed against Downs.

“We filed a motion quite a while ago that laid out all the ways that the State here violated the rules of evidence when they presented testimony to the grand jury, and that is basically, in a nut shell, that is what argument here today was about,” said Jesse Archer, an attorney for Downs.

According to Downs attorneys, the state has repeatedly violated Downs Forth and Fifth Amendment rights while they were conducting the investigation and after he was arrested. The State has challenged these claims saying that any errors or inaccuracies in the investigation where simple errors and are not grounds for dismissing the indictments or suppressing evidence.

Earlier this week the defense discovered the existence of wire taps executed against Downs during the investigation that had previously been unknown to the defense. According to the State they did not have the responsibility of sharing the information with the Defense, Judge Thomas Temple disagreed and ordered the state to share any information they had with Downs as well as unseal the files on the warrants.

Downs’ attorney Jim Howaniec questioned Alaska State Trooper Cold Case Investigator Randy McPherron about the wire taps.

“Our client called another lawyer that night, is his conversations with Donald Hornblower, attorney Hornblower from Lewiston, Maine on that wire tap,” Howaniec asked.

Attorneys for Downs had filed 11 separate motions in the case. The hearing ends tomorrow and Judge Temple is expected to only hear litigation on two of the motions. Litigation on the remaining nine motions will be scheduled at a later date.

We reached out to State prosecutor Jenna Gruenstein who once again declined an interview.

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