CBS Los Angeles

Judge Rules Newport Man to Stand Trial for Alleged Murder of Openly-Gay Teen

September 04, 2018 - 2:08 pm

(KNX 1070) -  A 21-year-old Newport Beach man was ordered today to stand trial on a murder charge stemming from the January killing of a former high school classmate, whose death has been deemed a hate crime by prosecutors because he was gay.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward is due back in court Sept. 17 for arraignment. He is accused in the killing of Blaze Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania pre-med student whose body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park in Lake ForestThe man accused of murdering his former high school classmate in Lake Forest is set to appear in court Tuesday morning for his preliminary hearing.

Samuel Woodward is also charged with a hate crime because prosecutors say he killed Blaze Bernstein because Bernstein was gay.

Bernstein's body was found in January buried at the edge of a park. A judge will determine if there's enough evidence to move the case to trial.

The hate crime allegation was added to the charges in August against a young, Newport Beach man accused of killing a gay former high school classmate.

Bernstein's body was found buried in a shallow grave at a Lake Forest Park in January. Woodward was charged with murder earlier this year.

Adding this allegation means that he could now face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In February, the parents of a murdered college student from Orange County made a call for kindness during a remembrance ceremony in honor of their son.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony which featured musical and spoken word performances in honor of Bernstein whose body was found buried in a shallow grave at a park in Lake Forest in January. The 19-year old's father Gideon says the ceremony is not just a tribute. 

"We are starting a movement to Blaze it Forward. It’s like pay it forward but it’s in memory and honor of our son." Bernstein said at the time in February. "Every year on Martin Luther King Day, which was the day our son was buried, we intend to do a Blaze it Forward day which will be giving back to the community."

He says in the wake of his sons killing, he wants to spread kindness, just like Blaze did.

"He loved giving people one on one. He loved cooking food and sharing it with his friends when they were sick."

He also loved philanthropy, that’s why attendees were asked to bring at least three canned food items which will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

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