The Latest: Californian to be tried in gay student’s death
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a defendant charged with killing a gay University of Pennsylvania student (all times local):
A Southern California man will stand trial on charges that he murdered a gay University of Pennsylvania student in a hate crime.
An Orange County judge ruled Tuesday that there’s enough evidence to try 21-year-old Samuel Woodward of Newport Beach for the January stabbing death of Blaze Bernstein.
Bernstein went missing after going out at night with Woodward to a park in Lake Forest. His body was later found in a shallow grave in the park.
Prosecutors say DNA evidence links Woodward to the crime and his cellphone contained troves of anti-gay, anti-Semitic and white hate group materials.
Woodward has pleaded not guilty.
An investigator has testified that a California man charged with killing a gay University of Pennsylvania student had troves of anti-gay, anti-Semitic and white hate group materials on his phone.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Craig Goldsmith testified Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court that Samuel Woodward had more than 100 different materials related to the violent hate group Atomwaffen. The group’s insignia was the wallpaper on his phone.
Woodward is facing a hearing to see if he should be tried on a count of murder and hate crime allegations in the January stabbing of Blaze Bernstein. Woodward has pleaded not guilty to the crimes.
Bernstein was gay and Jewish.
He went missing after going out at night with Woodward to a park in Lake Forest, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. His body was found in a shallow grave in the park about a week later.
Goldsmith says Woodward’s phone was full of anti-gay and homophobic materials, as well as pictures with Nazi references.
Prosecutors say the hatred that inspired a California man to kill a gay University of Pennsylvania student is spelled out on the suspect’s cellphone, laptop and social media.
Orange County prosecutors will begin presenting evidence against Samuel Woodward on Tuesday to persuade a judge that he should face trial on murder and hate crime allegations.
Woodward has pleaded not guilty to fatally stabbing Blaze Bernstein in January after the two former high school peers met at night in a park.
Bernstein was missing for nearly a week before his body was found in a shallow grave.
Court documents say Woodward told police he became angry after Bernstein kissed him.
A lawyer for Woodward says he has a “serious mental disorder” and struggled with his own sexual identity.