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Defendant's roommate takes the stand in Sophie Sergie murder trial

Nicholas Dazer in court.jpg
Screenshot
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Alaska Court System
Nicholas Dazer, now an attorney in Oregon, answers questions in the trial of his former UAF roommate, Steven Downs. Prior permission to use this image was obtained from Fairbanks Superior Court.

Nicholas Dazer shared a dormitory room with Steven Downs, who is accused of killing Sophie Sergie in 1993

The roommate of the defendant took the stand in the Sophie Sergie (SIR-ghee, with a hard G sound) murder trial on Monday. Nicholas Dazer was roommates and best friends with Steven Downs when they were students at University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1993. 28 years later, Downs is on trial for the killing of 20-year old Sophie Sergie. KUAC’s Robyne reports.

Nick Dazer met Steven Downs while they were moving into the third floor of Bartlett Hall in 1992. The 18-year olds got along well, studying, playing music and partying together. Dazer testified on Monday that they stayed close throughout their student careers at UAF.

“I've always considered him a very good friend, probably in Fairbanks at the time, my best friend... um, he was in my wedding in 1998 in Portland. I asked him to be a groomsman at my wedding and he was.”

The men would go hunting and fishing together. And as upperclassmen, they lived near each other in cabins off campus with their respective girlfriends.

In Spring, 1993, Nick Dazer worked a student job as a Community Service Officer, patrolling the campus on foot. Prosecutors reviewed the logs from the overnight shifts Dazer worked on Sunday and Monday April 25 and 26th.

He had a normal patrol of lower campus on the 25th, but the next night, he was helping the University Police Department and Alaska State Troopers with keeping people away from the bathroom murder scene, guarding a stairwell.

Defense attorney Jame Howaniec asked him if he learned much about the crime.

“No, law enforcement was not talking to me.”

“And you never went inside the bathroom?”

“I never crossed the threshold.”

He was later assigned to walk around and patrol the dorm complex.

“In the days following, we were encouraged to work as much as we possibly could because the campus wanted to put out presence of law enforcement types, uh, because everyone was freaked out.”

Dazer testified he could not imagine a connection between Steven Downs and the crime. He described his roommate as gregarious and popular with many friends. By the spring semester, Downs was spending more time with his girlfriend, who lived on the fourth floor of the dorm.

Dazer told defense attorney James Howaniec (hoh-AH-neck) he had not thought much about the crime in the years afterwards until 2010, when two Alaska State Troopers called him in and interviewed him at the Oregon law firm where he worked then.

“I believe they asked me, did your roommate have any guns?”

“And you said he had an H&R (Harrington & Richardson) .22.”

 “And a Derringer.”

Dazer testified he remembered his roommate having a pistol with flattened sides of the barrel.

Attorney Howaniec showed Dazer a photo of a .22 caliber pistol the state says could be the murder weapon.

Uh, this is a pistol that was taken from Steven Downs, his house. In 2019 in Auburn, Maine. Okay.

Okay. Before I even saw this picture, I had described the slab-sided barrel that I described…

… but yeah, that was the point I was getting at here. So this is a round-barreled gun, correct?

Yes.

The gun you recall Steve having was a flat barrel.

Correct. Either side of the barrel would have appeared to be a flat surface running along the length of the, so this would not be the gun. If your memory is accurate. Correct.

The court is broadcasting the proceedings on its website. Prior permission was granted for this recording for use in our coverage.

Robyne began her career in public media news at KUAC, coiling cables in the TV studio and loading reel-to-reel tape machines for the radio station.