(JTA) — The man accused of killing Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein was ordered to stand trial after a daylong hearing found there is enough evidence to proceed with the case.
Samuel Woodward, 21, has pleaded not guilty to killing his former high school classmate in January.
Last month, a hate crime charge was added alleging that Woodward targeted Bernstein because he was gay.
Investigators testified during a preliminary hearing in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday that Woodward was linked to the murder through DNA, and that a large amount of homophobic and neo-Nazi material was found on his mobile phone.
Among the material on his phone, investigators found a plot to pose as “gay curious” to attract men and then reveal it as a prank.
Blood stains from the blade of a knife found in Woodward’s bedroom, under his watch and on the visor of his car matched Bernstein so closely that the chance of the genetic material coming from someone else was 1 in a trillion, according to testimony by forensic scientist Corrie Maggay, The Associated Press reported.
Woodward’s defense attorney showed the court on cross-examination that his client had autism, and was socially awkward and sexually confused.
Bernstein’s body was found in January after the 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania student had gone missing from his parents’ Southern California home, which he had been visiting while on winter break. He had 20 stab wounds on his face and neck. Four days later Woodward was named as a murder suspect.
According to a January affidavit, Woodward told investigators that Bernstein had kissed him the night he went missing as the two sat in a parked car. Woodward said he rebuffed the move and Bernstein then left the car.