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Blaze Bernstein's Accused Killer to Be Held Without Bail

Blaze Bernstein and Sam Woodward
Blaze Bernstein and Samuel Lincoln Woodward

Samuel Woodward, accused of murdering Bernstein because the latter was gay, poses a danger to others, a judge ruled.

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The man accused of killing gay college student Blaze Bernstein has been ordered held without bail because he may be a danger to others.

In Orange County, Calif., Superior Court Friday, Judge Kimberly Menninger revoked bail for Samuel Woodward, 21, of Newport Beach, who is charged with Bernstein's murder with a hate-crime enhancement, the Los Angeles Times reports. Bail had been set at $5 million.

Woodward's defense attorney, Robert Kohler, had argued there is "no clear evidence" that his client would pose a threat to the community if he were free while awaiting trial. But Menninger said, "I do believe it would be a danger to others in the community, based on preliminary hearing transcripts."

Bernstein, 19, a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania, was home on break in Orange County last January when he agreed to meet up with Woodward, whom he had known at Orange County School of the Arts. Bernstein's family reported him missing January 3, and his body was found in a shallow grave in a park in Lake Forest, Calif., January 9. He had been stabbed to death. Woodward was arrested January 12 at his home in Newport Beach, Calif.

Woodward, a member of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, is accused of killing Bernstein because the latter was gay. There have been reports that Bernstein leaned in for a kiss from Woodward just before he was killed. In a preliminary hearing in September, it was revealed that Woodward kept what he called "Sam's Diary of Hate" in which he wrote of sending images of dead gay men to contacts on Grindr.

The hate-crime enhancement means that Woodward, if convicted, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Without it, his maximum sentence would be 26 years to life.

Woodward has pleaded not guilty. He will be back in court January 25.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.