IDAHO: Federal Hate Crime Charges For Man Who Admits To Murdering Gay Man After Posing As Escort

The Associated Press reports:

An Idaho man has been charged with a federal hate crime after prosecutors said he lured a gay man to a remote location and then beat him to death. Kelly Schneider, 23, was indicted by a grand jury earlier this month, but the case was kept under seal until he was taken into federal custody, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a prepared statement. Schneider is set to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Schneider has already pleaded not guilty in a first-degree murder charge in Idaho state court in connection with the April 2016 death of Steven Nelson, 49. State prosecutors say Schneider posed as an escort on the website Backpage in order to rob those who responded to his ad. Three others have also been charged in state court in connection with the case. Schneider and Nelson are both from Nampa in southwestern Idaho.

More from the Idaho Statesman:

The critically injured man walked, naked and without shoes, for about a half mile to reach a house and get help. He died several hours later at a hospital but was able to provide Canyon County sheriff’s investigators with detailed information that helped identify his attackers.

In court Monday, Schneider said he intended to rob Nelson but not kill him. He also admitted kicking the man repeatedly and acknowledged that his actions caused the man’s death, said Christ Topmiller, Canyon County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor.

Felony robbery, theft and robbery conspiracy charges against Schneider, 23, were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea on the murder charge. He faces up to life in prison when sentenced March 20 in 3rd District Court. Prosecutors can recommend a fixed sentence as high as 28 years before parole eligibility, and the defense can ask for as little as 10 years.

Woods, 28, of Nampa, is accused of helping Schneider as he beat and robbed Nelson of his car, wallet and other possessions. 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. Tracy is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 6 for first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy charges. Henkel is set for trial March 6 on the same charges. They have both pleaded not guilty.