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September 05, 2018

California man ordered to stand trial in January stabbing death of Penn sophomore

Samuel Woodward was linked to the killing of Blaze Bernstein by DNA on a knife found in his bedroom, investigators testified

Courts Blaze Bernstein
01072018_Blaze_Bernstein_OCSD Source/Ocean County Sheriff's Department

Blaze Bernstein is seen in a family photo released by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Blaze Bernstein, the gay University of Pennsylvania student stabbed to death in January at a park near his southern California home, discussed in graphic detail his hopes to have sex with the man facing charges in his killing, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing investigator testimony.

Bernstein sent a text to a friend with a photo of Samuel Lincoln Woodward, a former schoolmate, indicating the two men had bumped into each other and he thought they were going to hook up and that the sex would be "legendary," the AP reported.

During a preliminary hearing Tuesday, investigator Craig Goldsmith said Woodward's phone yielded mention of his efforts to pose as “gay curious” to attract men and then reveal it as a prank.


PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Prosecutors: Killing of Penn student motivated by anti-gay hate

“That’s what they deserve,” Woodward reportedly wrote using an anti-gay slur.

Woodward, 21, of Newport Beach, California, was ordered to stand trial in Orange County Superior Court on murder and hate crime charges after prosecutors linked him to the stabbing through DNA. He has entered a not guilty plea.

Bernstein, 19, was on winter break visiting his parents in the Lake Forest community of Foothill Ranch, about 45 miles southeast of Los Angeles. His body was found buried in a shallow grave in a nearby park nearly a week after he went missing.

Woodward faces a maximum potential sentence of life without parole if convicted.

An earlier report by ProPublica alleged Woodward had links to a neo-Nazi group, Atomwaffen Division.

The Orange County Register reported Tuesday that investigators searching Woodward's bedroom found a knife with dried blood on it and images on his phone with references to “Nazism” and homophobia.

The blood on the knife was matched through DNA to Bernstein, while the blood in the vehicle was matched to both Woodward and Bernstein, testified Corrie Maggay, a forensic scientist with the Orange County Crime Lab, the newspaper reported.

Goldsmith testified Tuesday that detectives worked with a New Jersey-based company to secure access to Woodward’s locked iPhone, reported the Register, which said Woodward has an arraignment hearing on Sept. 17.