Kelly Schneider, 23, of Nampa, was indicted on 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.
The indictment, unsealed upon Schneider’s transfer into federal custody, alleges that Schneider’s actions resulted in the death of his victim, Steven Nelson. Nelson, a gay man, was assaulted at Gott’s Point, near Lake Lowell in the early morning hours of April 29 of last year.
According to prosecutors, Nelson had responded to an on-line advertisement for a gay sexual encounter. At the Gott’s Point location, Schneider reportedly attacked the victim, kicking him several times with steel-toed boots. Prosecutors say Schneider and co-defendant Jayson Woods, 28, allegedly then robbed and stripped him.
Nelson managed to make his way to a house about a half-mile away, where he was able to get help. He provided Canyon County Sheriff’s Office detectives with descriptions of his attackers, before he died several hours later at a local hospital.
Appearing before a Canyon County judge Monday, Schneider admitted to the first-degree murder charge, telling the court he intended to rob Nelson, but he had not intended to kill him.
Woods’ trial began in Canyon County Monday.
Trials for two others –- Kevin Tracy, 21, of Nampa and Daniel Henkel, 23, of Wilder -- are scheduled to begin in several weeks. Prosecutors say they hid nearby, in case Schneider and Woods needed help in the attack.
Schneider’s federal arraignment is set for Tuesday January 24 at 2:00 p.m., before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush. A trial date will be set at that time.
The charge of willful assault based on sexual orientation, resulting in death, is punishable by up to life in prison, supervised release of not more than five years, and a $250,000 fine.