Man pleads not guilty to hate-crime murder
A Southern California man pleaded not guilty on Friday to the murder of a gay University of Pennsylvania student in a hate crime.
Samuel Woodward, 21, from Newport Beach, Calif., entered the plea during a hearing in Orange County Superior Court.
Bail was previously set at $5 million, but Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered Woodward held without bail at prosecutors’ request, saying she believed he would be a danger to the community if released.
Woodward is charged in the January stabbing death of college sophomore Blaze Bernstein, 19, who was home visiting his family on winter break. Both attended the same high school in Orange County.
Bernstein, who was gay and Jewish, went missing after he went out with Woodward to a park in Lake Forest, Calif. His body was found days later buried at the park in a shallow grave.
According to authorities, Woodward picked up Bernstein from his parents’ home and stabbed him nearly 20 times in the face and neck. DNA evidence links Woodward to the crime, and his cellphone contained troves of anti-gay, anti-Semitic and hate-group materials, prosecutors have said.