Man pleads not guilty to hate-crime murder

A Southern California man pleaded not guilty on Friday to the murder of a gay University of Pennsylvania student in a hate crime.

Samuel Woodward, 21, from Newport Beach, Calif., entered the plea during a hearing in Orange County Superior Court.

Bail was previously set at $5 million but Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered Woodward held without bail at prosecutors’ request, saying she believed he would be a danger to the community if released.

Woodward is charged in the January stabbing death of college sophomore Blaze Bernstein, 19, who was home visiting his family on winter break. Both attended the same high school in Orange County.

Bernstein, who was gay and Jewish, went missing after he went out with Woodward to a park in Lake Forest, Calif. His body was found days later buried at the park in a shallow grave.

According to authorities, Woodward picked up Bernstein from his parents’ home and stabbed him nearly 20 times in the face and neck. DNA evidence links Woodward to the crime and his cellphone contained troves of anti-gay, anti-Semitic and hate group materials, prosecutors have said.

— Associated Press

FBI concludes probe
of man who took plane

Authorities say the Seattle airport ground crew worker who stole an empty commercial airplane had apparently searched online for flight instruction videos before he took off on a dizzying ride that soon crashed into a small island.

The FBI announced Friday that it’s concluding the investigation into the unauthorized flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Aug. 10, after determining that Richard Russell, 28, of Sumner, Wash., acted alone.

Russell had worked for more than three years for Horizon Air, which is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the West.

“The FBI found this was an isolated, unanticipated incident by one individual,” the airline said in a statement.

The FBI’s probe indicates that Russell arrived for work that afternoon at the airport without any issues. The FBI said it doesn’t appear that Russell violated any other security measures or protocols before the plane took off.

— Associated Press

Bus driver passes out, passenger steers safely

A Greyhound bus passenger got behind the wheel and steered the bus to safety after the driver began passing out on a Utah highway Friday morning, police said.

Everette Elliott, 49, took over as the driver suffered a medical problem on Interstate 15 south of Salt Lake City, the Utah Highway Patrol said.

He brought the bus to a stop along the side of the highway. About 20 people were on board and no one was seriously hurt. The bus driver, a 30-year-old man, was taken to a hospital. Police don’t believe he was impaired, said trooper Colton Freckleton.

Greyhound sent a relief bus to take the passengers the rest of the way to Salt Lake City, said company spokeswoman Crystal Booker.

— Associated Press

Driver sentenced for causing church bus crash that killed 13: A driver has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for causing a Texas church bus crash that killed 13 people. Jack Dillon Young, 21, of Leakey, Tex., was sentenced Friday after pleading no contest on May 31 to 13 counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault. He had faced up to 270 years in prison after a three-day sentencing hearing. Prosecutors said Young was driving his pickup while under the influence of a prescription sedative and had smoked marijuana before the colliding with a church bus in March 2017 on U.S. 83 near Uvalde, about 75 miles west of San Antonio.

— Associated Press