Prosecution: Southern California killing motivated by anti-gay hate
1:51 PM, Aug 2, 2018
1:53 PM, Aug 2, 2018
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California man charged with the murder of a University of Pennsylvania student carried out the killing because the victim was gay, prosecutors said Thursday.
A hate crime sentencing enhancement was being added to a murder charge against 21-year-old Samuel Woodward for the death of 19-year-old sophomore Blaze Bernstein, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.
Since Bernstein's body was found in January at a park near his parents' Lake Forest, California, home, investigators reviewed Woodward's cellphone, laptop and social media and found hateful materials against a range of groups and substantial evidence Bernstein was killed because he was gay, Rackauckas said.
Bernstein went missing in January while visiting his parents in the tight-knit Lake Forest community of Foothill Ranch, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles. His body was found in the park nearly a week later buried in a shallow grave.
Bernstein went to the park with Woodward the night he disappeared, authorities said. The two had attended the same high school in Orange County.