Blaze Bernstein's Accused Killer Appears in Court on Felony Murder Charge
Sam Woodward, 20, has been charged with stabbing his high school friend.
Criminal charges have been filed against Sam Woodward, the man accused of fatally stabbing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein.
Sam Woodward appeared in an Orange County Superior Court Wednesday, and stands charged with a felony count of murder after cops say he stabbed Bernstein some 20 times in what authorities called a possible "act of rage."
The 20-year-old accused killer was scheduled to be arraigned at the time, but the hearing was postponed until Feb. 2. A judge ordered he remain jailed without bail.
The family of Blaze Bernstein did not appear at the hearing.
Days earlier, some 850 people turned up to honor the memory of the University of Pennsylvania pre-med student, whose body was found in a California park last week, at his funeral as gory details emerged in the case.
Bernstein was remembered at a funeral held Monday at the University Synagogue, where he was remembered as a humorous and inspiring young man with a love of cooking.
A recipe for a rum-pineapple upside-down cake, which he baked for his family on New Year's Eve, was reportedly passed out to funeral attendees Monday along with mini-spatulas.
Woodward, who attended high school with Bernstein, was arrested Friday and held in the Orange County Jail on suspicion of homicide after police say they found traces of the victim's blood on a sleeping bag in Woodward's car.
The arrest affidavit reportedly includes details suggesting Bernstein was interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with Woodward, the OC Register reported.
Bernstein and Woodward parked on Jan. 2 outside a Hobby Lobby in Lake Forest during a late night meeting, according to the affidavit. Woodward reportedly told investigators that Bernstein kissed him on the lips, and that he pushed him away.
The OC Register also reports Bernstein had texted friends in June that Woodward was about to "hit on" him and that he "texted every one, uh oh."
Search warrants indicated that Woodward told police Bernstein said they were going to meet another friend from high school and they arrived at the Borrego Park parking area shortly before midnight on Jan. 2.
Woodward told police that Bernstein walked into the park and never came back, and that he waited for about an hour before leaving to meet his girlfriend.
Woodward said he returned to the park several hours later but couldn’t find Bernstein.
Cops say Woodward was unable to recall his girlfriend’s last name or address, police reportedly said in the search warrants.
During his interview, police say Woodward had dirt under his fingernails that he claimed he got from a fall into “a dirt puddle,” according to reports. He also had several cuts and scratches he said he got from a “fight club,” the search warrants said.
Bernstein's death left his family, friends and the community that knew him devastated, loved ones said.
“Blaze was a brilliant, colorful and charismatic man who shined light on all of the lives of the people and communities that he touched,” his father, Gideon Bernstein, said at an emotional press conference shortly after authorities announced they had found his eldest child’s body. “Our family is devastated by the news. We, like so many of you around the world, love Blaze and wanted nothing more than his safe return.”
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