The man who helped set up the brutal beating of 49-year-old Steven Nelson near Lake Lowell last year was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and accepting the earnings of a prostitute.
Jayson Woods, 28, of Nampa, was accused of helping Kelly Schneider, 23, before Schneider beat and robbed Nelson of his car, wallet and other possessions near Lake Lowell.
The killing occurred when Nelson, an openly gay man, responded to a fraudulent advertisement for a male escort. Nelson met Schneider at a Wal-Mart store under the impression that Schneider was a male prostitute. The two men then went to Gott’s Point, but the meeting was a set-up and Schneider then brutally beat Nelson, kicking him in the head with steel-toed boots.
The men robbed Nelson, stripped him naked and left him for dead. Nelson died shortly after the attack of cardiac arrest.
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Police previously reported that Woods told officers he knew Schneider planned to rob Nelson.
Schneider has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in district court as well as admitting to a hate crime in federal court.
Woods previously described himself as the “salesman” in the crime. Woods and his ex-girlfriend reportedly dropped Schneider off at Wal-Mart before the attack, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Woods’ ex-girlfriend told police that Woods had, in the past, driven her around and forced her to perform sexual acts with various men for money. He admitted to police that he had set up people for sexual acts in the past and at the end of each night, divided up the money.
Kevin Tracy and Daniel Henkel are also charged in connection to the murder. Tracy, 21, of Nampa, and Henkel, 23, of Wilder, are accused of hiding nearby in case Nelson put up a struggle and Schneider needed more muscle.
The reason Schneider’s hate crime was filed in federal court is because Idaho law does not include sexual orientation and gender identity in its malicious harassment law. The federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 criminalizes willfully causing injury or death based on a victim’s sexual orientation.
Wendy Olson, the U.S. attorney for Idaho, decided after an FBI investigation to add the federal charge to Schneider’s existing Canyon County charges.
Henkel and Tracy both await trial.
Woods will be sentenced April 6.