A Nampa man on Wednesday agreed to plead guilty to a federal hate crime charge in the beating death and robbery of a gay man last spring, just two days after he admitted to a related first-degree murder charge in state court.
Kelly Schneider, 23, agreed to admit to the federal charge in exchange for a sentence of 28 years in prison, which would run concurrent with his state imprisonment. He faces up to life in prison for the murder charge when he is sentenced March 20 in Canyon County 3rd District Court.
The hate crime was charged in federal court because Idaho’s state hate crime law does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. The state law has been the subject of a long-running effort to add those words.
According to the plea deal, Schneider attacked Steven Nelson last April because of his sexual orientation. In state court on Monday, Schneider said he intended to rob Nelson but not kill him.
Documents state that Schneider posted a solicitation for sex on backpage.com on April 27, 2016, and met with Nelson that night after Nelson responded.
“The defendent took (Nelson’s) money without engaging in any sexual act with (Nelson). Before the encounter, the defendant told his friends that he was not gay an would not let anyone who was gay touch him.”
Schneider then conspired with three others to rob Nelson, luring him to Gott’s Point under the pretense of engaging in a sexual encounter. When Nelson arrived in the isolated area, Schneider kicked Nelson “20 to 30 times” and yelled anti-gay slurs at him, according to court documents. Schneider than stripped and robbed Nelson and stole his car, forcing the injured man to walk about a half-mile to reach help. Nelson died hours later in the hospital.
A state trial for Schneider’s co-defendant, Jayson Woods, 28, began Monday. The two other men suspected of involvement in the crime at Gott’s Point, Kevin R. Tracy and Daniel Henkel, are scheduled as witnesses.