On Monday, April 12, the hearings in the 1993 murder of Sophie Sergie continued by video conference. This time, the possibilities of alternative suspects were discussed, that is, suspects other than Steven H. Downs.
I hinted in other posts that I wondered about phenotyping in this case, if it was done, and if Downs resembles the results. So, when we discuss other suspects and knowing that we have DNA, I am looking for hard evidence that ties these suspects to the crime scene.
Here is a short overview of these suspects and what I find problematic. Read more in the Sun Journal.
1: Kenneth Moto
A female student described a man resembling Moto on the night of the crime leaving the dorm. What stood out was his grey T-shirt. When Moto was questioned by police, he was wearing a grey t-shirt. More important is that Moto’s sister told the authorities many years later, that her brother had confessed to her. He mentioned a knife. Moto is serving a prison sentence for manslaughter. He has a record of crimes against women.
- grey t-shirts are very common so unless it has an application or another distinctive mark, it isn’t groundbreaking
- Moto’s confession mentions a knife but we know from prior posts that several weapons were involved e.g. a stun gun a gun, ligatures, and something that caused blunt force trauma to Sophie’s head.
- Can we tie Moto to the crime scene?
- Was there a connection between Moto, Sergie, or the University?
- “Assistant Attorney General Jenna Gruenstein countered Howaniec’s argument, noting that Moto’s photo was not picked out of a photo lineup by the witness in the bathroom.”
- Moto’s sister passed away so her words cannot be presented as evidence at trial as they cannot be confronted by the defense.
- Does Moto have an alibi for the night of the crime?
- The female student who saw a man wearing a grey t-shirt said that she did not think that man was an Alaskan native. Moto is. She also said that she knew Moto and would have recognized him if it had been Moto.
During the picture line-up, she pointed to this following man.
2: Gregory Thornton
According to a resident assistant at the University, Thornton lived with a student on campus (against regulations?) at the time of the crime. According to the defense, he had a .22 caliber pistol and he was suicidal.
- Thornton’s DNA does not match the crime scene. The defense offered that it isn’t clear if his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.
- Does Thornton have an alibi for the night of the crime?
3: Thad Williamson
Wiliamson knew Sophie Sergie, liked her, had a shrine dedicated to her, acted strange the night of the crime, and he has no alibi for that night, according to the defense.
- according to the prosecution Williamson did have an alibi
- his DNA does not match the crime scene.
4: Robert Rago and another man
Rago and the other man, name unknown, were seen outside the dorm arguing and getting into a car. Whether they were arguing about Sergie and on exactly what night, is not clear. Read the Sun Journal.
5: Nicholas Dazer
Dazer was Downs’ roommate at the time. Dazer worked with campus security. On the night that Sophie Sergie was raped-murdered, he was working on another part of the campus. Despite that, he did show up at the party in the dorm where Sophie was found dead. According to the defense, Dazer was fired for owning a gun and lying about it. Later on, Dazer said that Downs owned a .22 caliber. Dazer is the only person who said so.
- According to the prosecution Dazer owned a .40 caliber firearm and not a .22 caliber pistol
- There also does not seem to be any evidence that he was ever the owner of a .22 caliber pistol
- Dazer’s DNA does not match the crime scene.
6: Billy Wilson
According to the defense, on the morning that Sophie Sergie was found dead Wilson was seen shaking, sweating, and he was hysterical. They also said that Wilson drank and at the time ‘was out of control.’ Wilson owned a gun, had a pocket knife, and had cuts on his hands that needed stitches.
- The prosecution said that the stitches happened a week before Sophie’s murder
- The weapon that Wilson owned was not a .22 caliber pistol but an AK-47
I am not sure if Wilson’s DNA was taken and compared to the crime scene.
An important fact surfaced on Monday related to the descriptions of the injuries that Sophie suffered. Markings on her body “suggested a Taser had been used.” The prosecution said on Monday “that evidence had later been refuted.” So, I take it that no stun gun was used on Sophie Sergie. What could have caused the markings, is not clear.
The hearings will continue this week.
All my posts about Sophie Sergie can be found here.