Samuel Woodward, the Newport Beach, California man charged in the murder of gay former classmate and UPenn pre-med student Blaze Bernstein, pleaded not guilty at a hearing in Orange County Superior Court on Friday.
Bernstein was found with more than 20 stab wounds in a shallow grave in Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, California on January 9. Woodward, whose DNA was linked to the murder, told investigators that Bernstein had tried to kiss him while they sat in a car in the park one week earlier, and that he pushed Bernstein away.
ABC6 reports: “Authorities submitted as evidence in the case images of a knife, a bloodied sleeping bag and propaganda for Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group. The materials include swastikas and urge violence against gay people. Defense attorney Robert Kohler, who argued for $1 million bail, said on Friday that there was no evidence that Woodward posed a threat to anyone, and he hadn’t been able to make his previous bail anyway…Woodward, who appeared in a shirt and jacket in a caged area of the courtroom, is due back in court Jan. 25. If convicted of first-degree murder and the hate crime allegation, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.”