Samuel Woodward was Found Guilty of Stabbing his Gay Former Classmate to Death

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In the hate crime case, Californian Samuel Woodward, who was charged with killing his former classmate in 2018, was found guilty. In January 2018, 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, a homosexual Jewish student at the University of Pennsylvania, vanished while on winter vacation in Newport Beach, California, while visiting his family. After a day-long search, his corpse was discovered buried in a Lake Forest park that he and Woodward visited the night he vanished, according to the authorities. The prosecution claimed that he had been stabbed 28 times.

Death of Gay Ex-Classmate:

An Orange County jury found on Wednesday that Samuel Woodward’s 2018 stabbing of a homosexual former classmate in a dark park was motivated by hatred and intended murder.

After deliberating for nearly a day, the jury found 26-year-old Woodward guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the death of 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Blaze Bernstein. The jury rejected the defense’s argument that Woodward only stabbed because Bernstein provoked him.

During a press conference, Bernstein’s mother, Jeanne Pepper, stated, “We are thrilled with the verdict, which holds Samuel Woodward accountable.” “It is a huge relief that justice has been served and that the public will no longer be threatened by this disgusting person who killed our son.”

Although Bernstein was homosexual and Jewish, the jury found Woodward guilty of a hate crime enhancement solely based on his sexual orientation.

The fanatical Atomwaffen Division was the source of most of the anti-gay and anti-Semitic literature on Woodward’s computer. He also maintained a “hate diary” in which he boasted of frightening and teasing homosexual persons.

Judge Kimberly Menninger will sentence Woodward to life in prison without the possibility of release on October 25. Although the court might theoretically deviate from that punishment, Assistant Public Defender Ken Morrison, Woodward’s attorney, stated it is “politically impossible.”

“This judge, the prosecution, and the media narrative over the last six years will not allow it to happen in this case,” Morrison declared.

Morrison has branded that narrative as “Nazi kills gay Jew,” and he made valiant attempts to undermine it for the majority of the trial, which lasted three months. Noting that there was “a solid record of appellate issues” regarding material the jury was not permitted to see, he declared that Woodward would file an appeal. He didn’t go into more detail about that proof.

Both sides depicted Woodward as a young guy who battled with his sexuality while growing up in a traditional Newport Beach home with a father who was very critical of him.

In January 2018, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Walker testified before the jury that Woodward killed Bernstein with a knife bearing his father’s name, a symbolic weapon choice.

“This homophobic father is the best person to demonstrate that you are not gay,” Walker said during the arguments for closing arguments. “Look what I just did; I’m not gay.”

Although Morrison termed Bernstein’s death a “hideous crime,” he conceded that his client was guilty of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.

He maintained that there was no premeditation or deliberate action, telling the jurors that the murder had nothing to do with his client’s involvement with the Atomwaffen Division.

The night of the murder, Woodward and Bernstein flirtatiously texted each other. Years before, at the Orange County School of the Arts, where Woodward was well-known for his extreme right-wing anti-gay beliefs, they had a casual acquaintanceship.

Woodward was living with his parents after dropping out of college. During winter break, Bernstein, an out homosexual student, was spending time in Lake Forest with his parents.

Woodward implied that he had two interests. Bernstein texted his address. After Woodward picked him up, they visited a local park. Walker stated, “Unfortunately, Blaze’s curiosity killed him.”

Taking the stand for himself, Woodward appeared almost paralyzed, his speech hesitant and halting, his eyes downcast, his face hidden under a mass of messy hair. He needed constant reminders to glance up from his attorney.

In his testimony, Woodward claimed that after taking two hits from a potent joint, he passed out and woke up to discover Bernstein caressing his penis.

According to Woodward, Bernstein branded him a hypocrite, informed him that he had been exposed, and reportedly said, “I got you.” Woodward expressed his anxiety that Bernstein had sent a photo of his privates to someone via text.

When questioned about specifics of the incident, Woodward continually claimed he couldn’t recall.

Prosecutors concluded that the knife carrying Woodward’s father’s name was the murder weapon after finding Bernstein’s blood on it. However, Woodward maintained that he had switched out the knife.

There was no proof that Bernstein had taken explicit pictures of Woodward, and the prosecutor Walker referred to the defendant’s statement as “revisionist history” and “ridiculous.”

She mocked the idea that Woodward became enraged because he was afraid of being discovered, pointing out that he had sent many pictures of his penis and put his photo on a Tinder page, indicating he was looking for other guys.

She explained that a knife bearing your father’s name is significant, especially because Woodward was an Eagle Scout and carried several knives. According to the prosecutor, Woodward wanted to become more well-known inside the Atomwaffen Division by murdering Bernstein.

Walker added, “It will demonstrate to Atomwaffen that he is not gay.” It will show his father that he is not homosexual. It will demonstrate to him that he is not homosexual.

Upon searching Woodward’s possessions, authorities discovered a death-head mask, a symbol of the Atomwaffen, smeared with Bernstein’s blood, suggesting Woodward carried it with him at the time of the stabbing.

“What is the purpose of your skull mask?” Walker stated. “This is a symbolic death meant to elevate him and win him respect, which it accomplished. We’ve heard that Atomwaffen was pleased with him for it.

Woodward buried Bernstein in a small grave in the park and texted Bernstein’s phone to find out where he was in an attempt to distract investigators. In his first police statement, Woodward said that although he had gone to the park with Bernstein, Bernstein had mysteriously drifted off.

Bernstein’s body wasn’t discovered for a week until the rain cleared the soil covering it. There was no shovel to be found. However, Morrison said that Woodward had dug the improvised grave with his hands and that dirt was found beneath his fingernails, supporting the claim that the act was not planned.

Morrison described his client as a young guy with social anxiety who went years without receiving an autism diagnosis.

He stated that other than the story in his “hate diary,” which Morrison called meaningless bragging, there was no proof that Woodward had indeed harassed and pranked homosexual males.

Bernstein’s deadly stabbing was not “a hate-fueled crime inspired by the likes of Hitler and [Charles] Manson,” according to Morrison.

“His lifelong struggle to fit in, to make and maintain meaningful friendships,” he explained, left his client vulnerable to an organization that gave fellowship and preyed on individuals like him. This was the reason for his client’s attachment to the Atomwaffen Division. He said his client had a “starvation for human connection.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Ana courthouse was full of people. Following the jury’s submission, the verdict form was given to the judge and Anthony Villa, the court clerk. With eighteen years of experience in the courtroom, Villa has read out hundreds of decisions without displaying any emotion.

This time, he fought to say “guilty,” breaking his voice. As they sat together, Bernstein’s friends and relatives felt the same. “Grateful to God,” a person cried.

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