CALIFORNIA: Social Media Posts Spur Hate Crime Charge For Man Accused In Murder Of Gay Student

The Los Angeles Times reports:

A 21-year-old Newport Beach man charged with murder in the stabbing death of former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein will also face a hate crime sentencing enhancement, the Orange County district attorney announced Thursday.

Orange County District Atty. Tony Rackauckas said prosecutors added the hate crime enhancement based on allegations that Samuel Woodward killed 19-year-old Bernstein because Bernstein was gay.

“A hate crime enhancement based on sexual orientation is appropriate due to the evidence developed by looking at Woodward’s cellphone, laptop and social media,” Rackauckas said. “All of this revealed the dark side of Woodward’s thoughts and intentions.”

NBC News reports:

Bernstein went missing late Jan. 2 after Woodward picked him up from his parents’ home in Lake Forest. Bernstein, who was on winter break from the University of Pennsylvania, knew Woodward from attending Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana together.

Following an eight-day investigation, Bernstein’s body — which was stabbed multiple times — was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park in Lake Forest. Woodward was arrested days later on Jan. 12 at his Newport Beach home. On Jan. 17, he was officially charged with one felony count of murder.

According to prosecutors, Woodward’s social media posts were “racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-government.” In January, Woodward was linked to a neo-Nazi group suspected in four other murders.