Man charged with killing gay college student in California testifies

Man charged with killing gay college student in California testifies

A California man charged with murdering a gay university student has spent a third day testifying.

Samuel Woodward, 26, was arrested in 2018 after allegedly kidnapping and killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein. He is charged with murder with an enhancement for a hate crime.

Six years later, on Tuesday (18 June), Woodward took the stand on day 28 of his trial in Orange County to explain how the two men first met.

Woodward said he matched with Bernstein on dating app Tinder, which shocked him because the pair had been at school together.

After unmatching and re-matching with him six months later, the defendant added that they began chatting on Snapchat, and he eventually decided to pick up Bernstein from his home on 2 January 2018, AP News reported.

Woodward took the University of Pennsylvania sophomore, who was home visiting family in Southern California on winter break, to a park in Lake Forest, where the Jewish teenager’s body was later found in a shallow grave. Bernstein had been repeatedly stabbed in the face and neck.

Sam Woodward standing trial in Orange County court. (Getty)

Bernstein’s parents called the police after finding his glasses, wallet and credit cards in his bedroom but then failing to reach him by phone.

Woodward’s family home in Newport Beach was searched after investigating officers discovered that he and Bernstein had been chatting on social media. Police reportedly found a bloodied folding knife and a host of anti-LGBTQ+ and generally bigoted paraphernalia.

Prosecutors allege Woodward had joined the antisemitic far-right group Attomwaffen Division. As a member, he repeatedly targeted gay men online by matching with them on social dating apps and breaking off contact, it was claimed.

During his testimony, Woodward acknowledged that he had the group’s materials in his possession and had read the book Siege, which is among several works promoted by the extremists.

Asked about his own sexuality, Woodward said he had previously been in a short-term relationship with a woman but had never experimented with men.

When questioned about his internet search history, which included gay porn sites, Woodward claimed he used them as a source for graphic images and videos to antagonise individuals he didn’t like.

Defence lawyer Ken Morrison didn’t dispute that his client carried out the fatal attack, but said Woodward didn’t plan to kill anyone and didn’t hate Bernstein. The killing was not motivated by the victim being gay, he added.

He said Woodward faced challenges in his personal relationships because of a long-undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder and was confused about his own sexuality after growing up in a politically conservative and devout Catholic family where his father openly criticised homosexuality.

If convicted, Woodward faces life in prison.

The trial continues.

The post Man charged with killing gay college student in California testifies appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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