On Jan. 10, 2018, Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigators found 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein’s body in a shallow grave near Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch.
Officials determined he had been stabbed 20 times, killed in an act of rage. Bernstein was gay and Jewish, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
And for most of 2018, a year that saw a surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes including the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead, and hate incidents against members of the LGBT community, Bernstein’s killing became a reference point for members of both communities who felt targeted in such an environment.
The Orange County District Attorney in August filed a hate crime charge against Samuel Woodward, 20, the man accused of killing Bernstein. Prosecutors point to a mountain of evidence showing Woodward was a member of Atomwaffen Division, a violent hate group that promoted, among other forms of hate, anti-Semitism and homophobia….