Man found guilty of 1st degree murder in the death of a gay man near Lake Lowell

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 20:00:30-05

 A man who Canyon County prosecutors say was part of a group who severely beat a gay man to death near Lake Lowell last April was found guilty on four felony charges late Thursday afternoon.

After approximately five hours of deliberation, a jury found Jayson Woods guilty of first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and accepting earnings from a prostitute.  Woods was one of four defendants charged in the beating death of Steven Nelson in the early morning hours of April 29 of last year.

One of Wood's co-defendants testified Tuesday in Woods' trial.  Kevin Tracy told the court he wanted to testify “so the truth will come out” –- and to give closure to the victim’s family.

Tracy testified he was under the impression that the arranged attack was supposed to simply be what was termed a “grab and go” -– A scenario where he says he thought they would take the victim's money and run.

Kelly Schneider, 23, of Nampa -– who police say was the ringleader of the group -- was indicted January 10th by a federal grand jury in Boise “for willfully assaulting a person because of the person’s sexual orientation,” according to U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson. 

According to prosecutors, Nelson responded to an online advertisement for a gay sexual encounter. The victim met Kelly Shneider and a Walmart parking lot, and drove him to an area near Lake Lowell.

At the Gott’s Point location, Schneider reportedly attacked the victim, choking him from behind, pushing him to the ground and then kicking him several times with steel-toed boots. Prosecutors say Schneider and co-defendant Jayson Woods, 28, allegedly then robbed and stripped him before fleeing the scene in the victim’s car with his belongings.

Nelson managed to make his way to a house about a half-mile away, where he rang the doorbell of a home yelling for help, prompting the homeowner to call 911.

He provided a Canyon County Sheriff’s Office deputy with descriptions of his attackers and details on the attack, before he died several hours later at a local hospital.

During Woods' trial, the jury watched the roughly twenty-minute body cam footage from the patrol deputy who first arrived on scene.

In the video, the victim, Steven Nelson was found naked, using a doormat to cover his groin area.

Following initial contact with the victim, Nelson told the deputy "I've been robbed, they stole my car and my clothes," then asked for a blanket.

The responding deputy gave the victim a blanket, and allowed him to sit in his patrol car while he answered several questions.

The victim could be heard expressing disappointment saying he felt "really stupid" and made "bad judgment".

He then explained he responded to an ad on, met the man at a Walmart parking lot, then drove to the Gott's Point area where the victim told deputies Schneider had somebody waiting at the lake.

Nelson gave brief descriptions of the two men, including one with the short blond hair and a short beard, and the other a heavy-set taller man with dark hair. Prosecutors say these two men are identified as Kelly Schneider and Jayson Woods.

Schneider’s federal arraignment is set for Tuesday at 2:00 p.m., before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush. A trial date will be set at that time.

Trial dates for co-defendants, Daniel Henkel and Kevin Tracy have not yet been scheduled.

Woods will be sentenced on April 6, 2017.