Janet Nguyen said today, as she announced a new state law proposal that would add sexual orientation and gender to the charge of special circumstance murder. Bernstein, who was gay and Jewish, was stabbed to death last month, allegedly by former high school classmate Samuel Woodward. The possibility of sexual orientation as a motive has not been ruled out by investigators, Nguyen said. In California, killing someone specifically because they are gay is not considered a special circumstance, Nguyen said at a news conference today.
‘I couldn’t protect him from everything’: Parents of slain college student speak out
Blaze Bernstein Killing: New Details Emerge After Friend’s Arrest | imforeveryoung.info
Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 21, had already been charged with murder in the January killing of year-old Blaze Bernstein, but prosecutors did not immediately deem the killing a hate crime. Bernstein, a University of Pennsylvania pre-med student, was visiting his native California when he was killed. Rackauckas said prosecutors added the hate crime enhancement to the first-degree murder charge after going through Woodward's social media and cellphone data, uncovering a large number of "graphic" and "chilling" texts and images that showed he intended to murder Bernstein and spewing hate towards "almost every protected group. Woodward has been linked in media reports to white supremacist group Atomwaffen. Rackauckas wouldn't confirm a link to any hate group, but urged anyone who had evidence of Woodward's links to any such group to come forward. Bernstein's father said that "learning he was killed simply for who he was as a human being" added to the family's grief.
California man pleads not guilty in killing of gay student Blaze Bernstein
Blaze Bernstein was home in California on break from the University of Pennsylvania. University of Pennsylvania sophomore Blaze Bernstein was spending time at home with his family in Southern California for winter break when he went missing on Jan. Authorities have not yet said how they believe Blaze was killed. But on Monday the Orange County Register released details of an affidavit obtained before it was sealed revealing that Blaze was stabbed more than 20 times.
A Southern California man has pleaded not guilty to charges he murdered a gay University of Pennsylvania student in a hate crime. The year-old suspect is now being held without bail. Woodward is charged in the January stabbing death of college sophomore Blaze Bernstein.