HomeNewsLocalDefendant Continues Testifying in Fatal Stabbing Trial

Defendant Continues Testifying in Fatal Stabbing Trial

SANTA ANA (CNS) – Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday in the trial of Samuel Lincoln Woodward, who is charged with the hate-crime fatal stabbing of a former gay classmate at the Orange County School of the Arts six years ago in Foothill Ranch.

He testified in his defense Monday, but denied sending lewd photos of himself to other men.

Woodward, 26, is charged with the Jan. 3, 2018, killing of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, and testified about his frustration interacting with the public in a part-time job as well as his inability to develop relationships with the opposite sex.

The long, shaggy-haired defendant with a full beard and mustache was asked by his defense attorney, Ken Morrison of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, to look up more during his testimony. As was the case when he took the stand Thursday, he frequently mumbled and struggled to recollect many events in his past.

Woodward said his father’s strict religious beliefs led him to emphasize that homosexuality was wrong.

“My father was a devout Christian and as such… anything in regards to homosexuality is that homosexuals are never to be, as God’s children, never to be mistreated in any form,” Woodward testified.

But, he added, they are not “righteous,” according to his father.

They are “something to stay away from,” he said of his father’s advice, “and not something you would in any way, shape or form put yourself with or be a part of.”

When asked if his father said he thought homosexuality was a lifestyle choice, the defendant said, “He thought many things I have a hard time remembering.”

Morrison also questioned Woodward about a note his father prepared in June 2017 to discuss how he would discuss the issue with his son when the defendant said he had engaged in sexual touching games with classmates in high school.

Woodward denied doing that, prompting his attorney to follow up, “Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah,” he said.

When asked if his father warned him about homosexual classmates seducing him, Woodward said, “I can’t remember if he did or not.”

Woodward did recall his older brother consistently insulting him with a gay slur growing up.

“Plenty of times, yeah,” he said of the frequency.

His brother also insulted the Orange County School of the Arts with the slur as well, Woodward testified.

Woodward also did not recollect his mother often “intervening” when his brother or father would insult him with a gay slur when Morrison recalled testimony from other witnesses.

When showed a lewd photo he sent to another man he met through a dating app, Woodward denied it was of him.

“No, doesn’t look like me,” he said.

“Where did you get that picture?” Morrison asked.

“I probably got it off the internet,” he responded.

The defense attorney noted that a college roommate testified that the tile floor seen in the photo was the same as the one in the restroom where he went to college.

Woodward denied sending nude photos of himself to a former high school classmate, contradicting Gabriel Morris’ testimony.

“Is that truthful that testimony?” Morrison asked.

“No,” he said.

“Are you certain?”

“Yes, I am,” he replied.

“How can you be so sure,” the defense attorney asked.

“I don’t remember anything like that,” he said. “I don’t think it ever happened.”

When asked if he was attracted to the opposite sex growing up, there was a long pause before he answered, “Uh, yeah.”

When he was asked if he met anyone he wanted to date, after a long pause he said, “Couple of times, yeah.”

He testified he was never able to get a date and never had sex with anyone.

Still, he had fears of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, he testified, chalking it up to persistent anxiety about diseases. He acknowledged he would ask his parents to check his private parts for venereal disease, he said.

Woodward was also asked about text messages he exchanged with his brother’s best friend, Dylan Gronendyke on New Year’s Day in 2018 when he encouraged Woodward to “change the narrative” about his failed relationships with others. Woodward was frustrated that he was often the last one caring about the relationships when the friends he had drifted away.

There were times he would leave the house and drive to a parking lot and wait there to give his parents the impression he was going out, he acknowledged.

But Woodward struggled to recall any of those instances and telling Gronendyke about his autism diagnosis.

Woodward said that since he has been in jail it has made it harder for him to recall events.

“It takes me awhile to piece things together,” he testified. “And I find there are some things I can’t remember at all… It’s just lost.”

Woodward also struggled to remember much about his victim. He recalled having a few classes with him, but did not remember the emails they exchanged on class projects they worked on.

“Do you remember telling him he was a chill dude?” Morrison asked.

“I think so,” Woodward replied.

Woodward said some of the notes in documents he created on his iPhone were comments others made that he copied and pasted from online sites such as Reddit.

He had good memories of working at a Nerf party company.

“It was definitely, I suppose, more rewarding,” he said of the work. “It was easier to work with kids than I thought it would be.”

Another job bagging groceries at a Bristol Farms store did not produce the same warm nostalgia.

“A lot of the customers were super demanding,” he said. “Sometimes they got loud… A lot of the times they treated a lot of the staff with disrespect.”

But he had foggy memories of vandalizing a mattress and breaking a mirror at home.

Woodward will continue testifying Tuesday.

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