Four men facing first-degree murder charges for the beating death of a Nampa man on Friday made their first court appearance in Canyon County.
22-year-old Kelly B. Schneider of Nampa, 21-year-old Kevin R. Tracy of Nampa, 28-year-old Jayson C. Woods of Nampa, and 23-year-old Daniel A. Henkel of Caldwell are all facing charges of first-degree murder and robbery. Schneider is also facing grand theft and unlawful possession of a financial transaction card.
Kelly Schneider was the first of four suspects who appeared in the courtroom.
Canyon County Prosecutor Christopher Boyd asked the judge to hold Schneider without bail. Boyd then went onto to say that the nature of the crimes committed could result in the state pursuing the death penalty against all four suspects.
The prosecution claims that Schneider kicked Steven Nelson with steel boots and stole his clothes, wallet, and car keys. After hearing the prosecution, Judge Gary DeMeyer ordered Schneider to be held without bond and to have no contact with any of the other suspects.
Jayson Woods was second to face the judge and Boyd asked the judge to hold him without bond. The prosecutor said Woods helped arrange the meeting and was ordered to have no contact with any of the other defendants before being taken away.
Daniel Henkel appeared after Woods and the prosecutor claimed that Henkel encouraged Schneider to rob and beat Nelson. The judge then ordered Henkel to be held without bond.
Kevin Tracy appeared last in front of Judge DeMeyer. Prosecutor Boyd claims that Tracy was also present during the attack and encouraged Schneider to rob and beat Nelson. When questioned by investigators following his arrest, prosecutors claim that Tracy admitted to police that the group had participated in similar style crimes before with other victims.
Tracy was also denied bond and all the defendants will be appointed public defenders.
All four men were ordered to appear back in court for a preliminary hearing on May 13th at 8:30 a.m.
The victim, 49-year-old Steven E. Nelson, was found naked and badly beaten in the early morning hours on April 29th while wandering a neighborhood near Gotts Point by Lake Lowell. He told police he was stripped naked, beaten and robbed. Steven died later at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medial Canter in Boise. Officials say Steven had, “broken ribs and bleeding from the ear. Steven died a few hours later, the Ada County Coroner cited the cause of death as homicide by cardiac arrest."
According to prosecutors at the trial, Steven drove his vehicle with one of the suspects to the location near Lake Lowell. When Steven and the suspect arrived at the spot, several of the other men who were already waiting "ambushed" him.
Investigators were informed by Steven before his death, that he had used www.backpage.com and described a man with a covered face in the back seat of a vehicle with tattoos as the individual he believed he was going to meet. The ad was located by detectives and a Canyon County Probation Officer confirmed that the man in the photo was Kelly Schneider due to his “unique tattoos.”
When Kelly and Steven got out of the car, Tracy said that he witnessed Kevin hit Steven in the face and then proceeded to kick him with steel-toed boots “approximately 30 times” while he was on the ground. Steven was heard begging Kelly to not kill him and offered Kelly his credit cards and PIN number so he could be let go.
Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue explained at a weekend press conference that the victim thought he was meeting a man for sex, making the arrangement online. Following Monday's trial, Donahue emphasized that the case was a "top priority" for the department and is actively looking to see who else might have been involved with the group in carrying out similar crimes.
Now, officials are asking anyone who may have had a similar experience to come forward with information to assist in the investigation.
“I don’t want the victims out there being concerned with coming forward because they are fearful of prosecution for solicitation of sex,” Donahue said during the press conference on Saturday, April 30th. “We are centered on the individuals who are victimizing those people who are on the internet making those solicitations.”