A federal judge sentenced a 23-year-old man who plead guilty to a hate crime to 28 years in prison for kicking to death a gay man, according to federal officials.
Kelly Schneider, of Nampa, Idaho, plead guilty to violently assaulting Steven Nelson because he was a gay man, officials said.
Schneider was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 10, 2017, with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He plead guilty to the charge on Feb. 7, 2017.
He was sentenced Thursday by Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill.
This sentence makes it clear that we as a society cannot and will not tolerate violence – in this case escalating to a vicious murder – against persons based on their sexual orientation or any other characteristic,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division “The Department of Justice is committed to using every tool at its disposal to combat such brutal violence.”
“Steven Nelson was assaulted and later died because he was gay,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez of Idaho. “This is precisely the kind of bias motivated violence that the Shepard-Byrd Act was passed to address. The federal prosecution in this case makes clear that this office, the Civil Rights Division and its law enforcement partners will pursue justice when a person is violently attacked based on who he loves and how he loves.”
According to the plea agreement, on the evening of April 27, 2016, Schneider posted a solicitation for sex on backpage.com, an Internet website, which included a shirtless photo of himself.
Nelson responded to that posting, and Schneider met with him the next evening. Schneider took Nelson’s money without engaging in any sexual act with Nelson. Before the encounter, Schneider told his friends that he was not gay and would not let anyone who was gay touch him.
Nelson responded to that posting, and Schneider met with him the next evening. Schneider took Nelson’s money without engaging in any sexual act with Nelson.
In the early morning hours of April 29, Schneider resumed communication with Nelson. Schneider then conspired with other individuals to again rob Nelson.
According to the plan, Schneider was to meet up with Nelson in a parking lot and ask Nelson to drive to Gott’s Point, an isolated wildlife area in the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge near Lake Lowell, for a sexual encounter.
At Gott’s Point, Schneider would rob Nelson, and two of Schneider’s cohorts would be lying in wait as “
When Schneider and Nelson reached Gott’s Point, Schneider immediately began physically assaulting Nelson, kicking him 20-30 times with steel-toed boots and repeatedly using a homophobic slur.
Nelson never resisted throughout the attack. He died of his injuries later that day. No one else participated in the assault.
Schneider was sentenced earlier this month in state court for first degree murder based on Nelson’s death.
The state court sentenced him to a fixed 28-year term of imprisonment and life indeterminate. Schneider’s federal sentence will be served concurrently to the state sentence.