- Canyon County Sheriff
- In addition to pleading guilty to first degree murder, Kelly Schneider pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime.
Kelly Schneider, 23, pleaded guilty in January to first degree murder for the beating death of Steven Nelson. Schneider was indicted by a federal grand jury for willful assault based on sexual orientation resulting in death—a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Nelson responded to a solicitation for sex—that included a photo of Schneider shirtless—on Backpage.com April 27, 2016. The two men met and Schneider accepted money from Nelson, but they didn't engage in sexual activity. According to reports, prior to meeting Nelson, Schneider had told friends he wasn't gay and wouldn't let a gay person touch him.
Schneider and several other men planned to rob Nelson and when Schneider and Nelson agreed to travel together on April 29 to Gott's Point on Lake Lowell, Schneider planned to rob Nelson while the other men waited as "back up."
When Schneider and Nelson reached Gott's Point, Schneider assaulted Nelson, kicking him in the head with steel-toed boots 20-30 times. Through the duration of the attack, Nelson didn't resist. He died as a result of injuries sustained in the attack later that day.
According to Schneider's plea deal, none of his associates participated in the attack.
Schneider is scheduled to go before U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill Wednesday, April 26, for sentencing. Schneider faces up to life in prison, supervised release of not more than five years, and a $250,000 fine.