A man accused of posing as gay so he could lure and then kill his former high school classmate will stand trial, a judge ordered Tuesday.
The judge said there’s enough evidence in the case to warrant a murder trial for Samuel Woodward, 21, who is accused of stabbing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, a student at University of Pennsylvania, to death in January, according to KABC in Los Angeles.
Bernstein and Woodward met up at a Lake Forest, California park on Jan. 2 when Bernstein was home on a school break. The two men knew each other from high school.
A week after their meetup, Bernstein's body was found in a shallow grave near the same park.
Before meeting up, Bernstein texted a friend a photo of his former classmate, and told them that he thought they were going to have sex, the Associated Press reported. The Ivy League student told his friend over text that sex with his former classmate would be “legendary.”
Police believe that Woodward lured Bernstein and had a hatred of gay men. Investigators said they found evidence on Woodward’s phone that he planned to pose as “gay curious” to attract men, only to reveal to them that he was leading them on.
“That’s what they deserve,” Woodward wrote using an anti-gay slur, according to the Associated Press.
In August, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced that a hate-crime charged would be tacked on to Woodward’s murder charge, KABC reported.
During Tuesday's hearing, experts revealed that Bernstein was stabbed more than 20 times. Prosecutors say that Woodward told them that when his former classmate tried to kiss him, he pushed him off and called him an anti-gay slur. An investigator testified that Woodward killed Bernstein because he was gay. Police additionally found over 100 pieces of neo-Nazi group material on his phone.
Bernstein was Jewish.
In an investigation by ProPublica, three people who knew Woodward said he was a member of the Atomwaffen Division, a violent and secretive neo-Nazi group with an obsession with the occult and ties to at least five killings since 2017.
Woodward has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and to the hate crime allegations. If convicted, he would spend life in prison without parole.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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