Idaho man gets 28 years in beating death of gay man

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By Laura Zuckerman
| SALMON, Idaho

An Idaho man who killed a gay man by kicking him up to 30 times with steel-toed boots was sentenced on Wednesday by a federal judge to 28 years in prison, prosecutors said on Thursday.

In February, Kelly Schneider, 23, of Nampa, pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime for attacking Steven Nelson last year at a remote wildlife refuge while repeatedly using a homophobic slur, acting U.S. Attorney for Idaho Rafael M. Gonzalez said in a statement on Thursday.

“Steven Nelson was assaulted, and later died, because he was gay,” Gonzalez said.

Schneider was also sentenced to 28 years in prison earlier this month on a state charge of first-degree murder in Nelson’s death, court records show.

Schneider’s federal sentence will be served concurrently with the state sentence, U.S. prosecutors said. He is being held in an Idaho jail until authorities determine where he will serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Schneider was contacted by Nelson the evening of April 27, 2016, after Schneider posted a shirtless photograph of himself in a solicitation for sex on the website, federal authorities said. The pair met the next evening, when Schneider took Nelson’s money but did not engage in a sexual act, court records show.

Before that encounter, Schneider told his friends that he was not gay and would not let anyone who was touch him, prosecutors said. Schneider had promised Nelson a sexual encounter when the pair went to an isolated spot within Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge in southwest Idaho on April 29, according to authorities.

Instead, Schneider attacked Nelson at the wildlife area, kicking him 20 to 30 times with steel-toed boots while repeatedly using a homophobic slur, prosecutors said.

Nelson did not resist throughout the assault and died of his injuries later that day, authorities said.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman; Editing by Patrick Enright and Richard Chang)