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Man accused of murdering schoolmate Blaze Bernstein has pleaded not guilty again

If found guilty, Samuel Woodward could face life in prison for the murder and hate crime allegations

2018-11-12

A man who is on trial for allegedly murdering schoolmate Blaze Bernstein has pleaded not guilty again.

Bernstein went missing while visiting his parents’ home in California back in January and was found one week later in a shallow grave in a park with 19 stab wounds to his face and neck.

Samuel Woodward was arrested on suspicion of murder and told authorities that Bernstein had kissed him and he had pushed him away before they went to the park together.

Police combed through Woodward’s mobile phone, laptop and social media and found hateful materials against a range of groups.

They determined that there was substantial evidence that the alleged white supremacist targeted Bernstein because he was gay as well as Jewish.

Woodward’s lawyer, Edward Munoz, previously said that he has Asperger’s syndrome and says he was a “very confused” about his own sexuality.

The Daily Pennsylvania report that evidence presented at the trial showed Woodward and Bernstein were close and connected over Snapchat.

Woodward was also found to have picked up Bernstein from his home the night he died.

Forensic testing also found that blood stains on the knife found in Woodward’s bedroom, under his watch and on the visor of his car belonged indefinitely to Bernstein.

Woodward originally pleaded not guilty to the murder and pre-trial hearing was due to take place on August 22 but was postponed as evidence was being reviewed.

While on trial last week, Woodward entered his not guilty plea during a hearing at the Orange County Superior Court, NBC News reported.

His bail was previously sat at $5 million but Judge Kimberly Menninger said he will be now held without bail, noting he could be a danger to the general public if he was released.

Woodward is set to be back in court in January and if convict of first-degree murder and hate crime allegation, he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.