Suspect in slaying of 19-year-old Ivy League student pleads not guilty

California (KTLA) -- The former classmate suspected of killing 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, whose body was found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park, has pleaded not guilty in connection with the homicide.

Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20 was charged Jan. 17 with murder in the stabbing death of Bernstein, a pre-med student at the University of Pennsylvania who was visiting his parents in Lake Forest for winter break when he was killed.

Woodward entered his plea during an arraignment on Friday. His bail was set at $5 million.

Woodward allegedly drove Bernstein to Borrego Park on Jan. 2 before stabbing him multiple times and then burying his body in a shallow grave in the park's dirt perimeter.

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Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.


(Photo via Blaze It Forward/Facebook)

SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Msgr. Wilbur Davis, of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach, explains to the media how Samuel Lincoln Woodward was named after Samuel in Bible and took communion two weeks ago. Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, left, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, appeared in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: The parents of Blaze Bernstein, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein and Gideon Bernstein, embrace prior to reading a family statement at a press conference at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 to announce that a body discovered in Borrego Park has been identified as their missing son Blaze Bernstein . (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.

(Photo via Blaze It Forward/Facebook)

NEWPORT BEACH, CA - AUGUST 22: Samuel Woodward leaves a court hearing at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach, CA on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. Woodward is charged with the murder of his former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein in January, 2018. (Photo by Paul Bersebach/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: Mourners comfort each other as they join more that 300 people in Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 for a candlelight vigil for Blaze Bernstein. A make-shift memorial of photos, candles and flowers was setup on a picnic table near the spot where Bernstein's body was found. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, left, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, consults with his attorney Edward Munoz as he appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: A poster with the family photo of Blaze Bernstein was on display at a press conference at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 to announce that a body discovered in Borrego Park has been identified as missing teen Blaze Bernstein. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Attorney Edward Munoz, defense attorney for Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, is questioned by reporters after Woodward appeared in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: The parents of Blaze Bernstein, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein and Gideon Bernstein, left, read a family statement at a press conference at the Orange County Sheriff's Department in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. Orange County Sheriff's Chief of Police Services Brad Valentine, right, listens to the statement about their son. A body discovered in Borrego Park has been identified as their missing son Blaze Bernstein. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.

(Photo via Blaze It Forward/Facebook)

SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, left, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, consults with his attorney Edward Munoz as he appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.

(Photo via Blaze It Forward/Facebook)

SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, right, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, consults with his attorney Edward Munoz as he appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.

(Photo via Blaze It Forward/Facebook)

LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: A note with flowers at memorial set up for Blaze Bernstein in Borrego Park in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. The memorial is near a wooded at the edge of the park that is thought to be the location where the body of Blaze Bernstein was found. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
#OCSDPIO: Search continues for missing 19 y.o., Blaze Bernstein. Approx 25 OCSD Reserve deputies searching the Whit… https://t.co/kjcSELPXJm

Blaze Bernstein was last seen around 11 p.m. on January 2nd at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch, CA.


(Photo via Help Us Find Blaze Bernstein/Facebook)

IRVINE, CA - JANUARY 15: An woman overcome with emotion leaves the University Synagogue following the memorial service for Blaze Bernstein in Irvine on Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
LAKE FOREST, CA - JANUARY 10: A wooded area at the edge of Borrego Park in Lake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 is thought to be the location where the body of Blaze Bernstein was found. A memorial of balloons and flowers, left, was placed on a table near the site. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - JANUARY 17: Samuel Lincoln Woodward, 20, of Newport Beach, left, a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein, consults with his attorney Edward Munoz as he appears in court at the Orange County Central Justice Center on January 17, 2018 in Santa Ana, California. Woodward is charged with murder with a sentencing enhancement of personal use of a knife. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Bernstein was reported missing by his parents the next day, but his body wasn't discovered until a week later.

DNA evidence found at the crime scene and in Woodward's vehicle led to his arrest on Jan. 12.

He was ordered to be held without bail when he was charged.

Woodward and Bernstein both previously attended the Orange County High School of the Arts in Santa Ana.

During an interview with investigators about the night Bernstein disappeared, Woodward said the 19-year-old, who was openly gay, had kissed him on the lips, prompting Woodward to push him away.

The investigators noted that Woodward had clenched his jaw and fists while recounting the story.

ProPublica last week reported that Woodward belonged to a neo-Nazi group.

Bernstein's parents believe their son, who was found with more than 20 stab wounds, may have been the victim of a hate crime.

Authorities have not announced a motive in the case.

During a news conference Friday morning, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas discussed how sexual orientation and gender are not protected under the special circumstance allegations for murder.

He explained that a bill in the California Senate calls for the LGBTQ community to be included in the special allegations enhancements, though it would have no impact in the Bernstein case and Woodward would not qualify for the death penalty.

“If the sexual orientation of a victim is a substantial factor in the defendant's intent to murder, then he or she should be subjected to the punishment of life without the possibility of parole or the possibility of the death penalty,"  Rackauckas said Friday. "It’s time now that California places members of the LGBTQ community as a protected class of victims of special circumstance murder.”

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