Neo-Nazi accused of murdering of gay Jewish teen Blaze Bernstein to stand trial

A photo of murdered gay Jewish student Blaze Bernstein pictured standing in front of frozen lake

A neo-Nazi, who was accused of the murder of gay Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein, will stand trial this week, five years on from Bernstein’s death.

University of Pennsylvania student Bernstein, 19, was stabbed to death in California back in January 2018 in what was described as a hate crime. 

Samuel Woodward, the last person to see Bernstein before his death, was arrested soon after the murder, with DNA evidence at the scene reportedly linking him to the crime.

Woodward, now 25 years old, will appear in court on Friday (27 January) for the first time since a California judge ruled him competent to stand trial, Forward reported.

Woodward pleaded “not guilty” in November 2018 to Bernstein’s murder.

On trial: Samuel Woodward. (Getty/Allen J. Schaben)

Blaze Bernstein was home from university for winter break when he was stabbed to death and buried in an Orange County park. His alleged killer Samuel Woodward was a classmate, and active in the local neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division at the time of the killing. 

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His parents, Gideon and Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, have previously said they believe their son was killed in a hate crime due to his sexuality and religion, with court reports stating that Bernstein may have kissed Woodward before the murder.

Previous details uncovered in the trial found that Woodward’s phone contained more than 100 examples of homophobic and antisemitic content at the time of the killing, as well as materials related to Atomwaffen.

“Our son was a beautiful gentle soul who we loved more than anything,” his parents said back in 2018.

“We were proud of everything he did and who he was. He had nothing to hide. We are in solidarity with our son and the LGBTQ community.”

They added: “If it is determined that this was a hate crime, we will cry not only for our son but for LGBTQ people everywhere that live in fear or who have been victims of hate crime.”

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