Nobody is safe from cyber attacks. About two weeks ago, the Alaska court system was forced offline. Without internet connection, no Zoom. Steven H. Downs, charged with Sophie Sergie’s murder, attended by telephone from jail.
How long is this going to take? Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Thomas Temple said Wednesday “I don’t know what the result is,” he said, but noted, “we will not be able to have a Zoom hearing this week” as was planned.
Defense lawyer James Howaniec withdrew three motions that he had filed in the case. Howaniec wants all these issues to be assessed by the jury:
– the allegation that the prosecution violated the rules of discovery by releasing materials only after the deadline and in bits and pieces. There are thousands of pages and roughly 100 audio tapes in this case. The defense feels sure that they received everything but they way that they received the evidence, slow and part-by-part, could have hindered their preparations.
– a motion to exclude all DNA evidence from trial. The defense had concerns about the manner in which DNA was collected and the tests. Remember that this is a crime scene from 1993. As mentioned in other posts, evidence collection was different then.
– the defense correctly argued that finding Downs’ DNA does not mean that he killed Sergie. Finding DNA indeed does not say anything about the time that the sample was deposited on or near the victim. It could have happened before or after the murder. The DNA only shows someone’s presence but it doesn’t give you an exact time and/or date.
There are still other pretrial motions that hopefully will be heard in June. This includes the motions to introduce to the jury other suspects, the affidavit on which the authorities based their search warrant for Downs’ house, the possible contamination of Down’s saliva DNA sample, and recanted grand jury testimony from one of the state’s witnesses.
To be continued.