A woman who was in a “sort of” relationship with an Auburn, Maine, man during the first few months of their freshman year at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks nearly 30 years ago took a photograph of him with a hunting knife that he owned, she testified Friday at his murder trial.

Bleu Roesbury testifies Friday at the murder trial of Steven H. Downs of Auburn, Maine, in Alaska, saying she remembered him having a knife similar to the one shown by prosecutors. Used with permission by Fairbanks Superior Court

Bleu Roesbury appeared in Fairbanks Superior Court by videoconference on a courtroom monitor at the murder and sexual assault trial of 47-year-old Steven H. Downs.

He has been charged in the April 26, 1993, slaying of Sophie Sergie, 20, of Pitkas Point, Alaska.

Roesbury said the “fairly large, fixed blade” knife had a brass handle and a silver blade.

She said Downs kept the knife on his desk in his third floor dorm room in Bartlett Hall.

Sergie’s body was found in the bathtub area of the women’s bathroom on the second floor of Bartlett Hall.


Investigators said Sergie was shot in the back of the head with a .22-caliber gun and stabbed in the cheek and the corner of her eye. A witness testified earlier in the trial that marks on each of her hips and between her navel and genitals could have been made by the tip of a knife.

A witness at the murder trial of Steven H. Downs of Auburn, Maine, testified Friday in Alaska that she remembered him having a knife similar to the one shown by prosecutors in this photograph. Used with permission by Fairbanks Superior Court

Roesbury said she remembered the knife because she had photographed Downs with it, but said the fact that he owned a knife didn’t seem unusual.

“Growing up in the wilderness of Alaska, knives and guns really didn’t make an impression on me because everyone I grew up with had them,” she said.

He never threatened her with the knife, she said. In the photo, he was playfully posing with it, she said.

Shown a photograph of a sheathed knife, Roesbury said it looked similar to the one she remembered.

Roesbury said she didn’t remember ever having seen him with a gun.


Downs’ then-girlfriend later during his freshman year testified earlier at trial that he was “into weapons,” but said he didn’t own a gun. She said he owned a pocket knife and believed he had a “fixed blade” knife.

Other witnesses testified Friday about semen collected during Sergie’s autopsy and described where and how much sperm was located.

Prosecutors pointed out that no semen was detected in bodily fluids detected in Sergie’s underpants, which had been pulled down to her knees when her body was found, suggesting the semen found in and on her body had been deposited during her attack in the bathtub.

Defense attorneys asked whether it was possible Sergie had engaged in consensual sexual intercourse within 48 hours of her death, but had changed her underwear before she was killed.

Kristin Denning, a forensic scientist at the Alaska Crime Lab in 1999, who examined slides of bodily fluids from the Sergie case said that was possible.

Asked whether she could tell from the evidence whether Sergie had had consensual sex or was sexually assaulted, Denning said she couldn’t tell.


Investigators said Sergie had been visiting a friend at that dorm and had left her friend to smoke a cigarette and hadn’t been seen again before her body was discovered.

Custodial staff found her body in a women’s bathroom on the second floor the afternoon of the day she was believed to have been killed.

Prosecutors contend semen found in Sergie’s body was later matched to Downs in 2018 through a random hit after his aunt submitted her DNA to a genealogy website.

Downs was arrested in Auburn in February 2019 and extradited to Fairbanks for trial, which started earlier this month.

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