Christian Pretends to be Gay Prostitute, Charged with Stripping and Killing Gay man
|Jayson Lee Woods, 28, appeared for sentencing in court Tuesday, the day after his cohort Kelly Schneider, 23, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 28 years. Schneider kicked Steven Nelson 20-30 times with steel toed boots, robbed him and stripped him naked after luring him to an isolated area near Lake Powell in April 2016 under the presumption that the two would engage in sexual acts.
Nelson walked about a mile to a nearby house that morning, where he was able to contact police and tell a Canyon County Sheriff’s deputy what happened. He died at Saint Alphonsus hospital that day from a heart attack due to his injuries.
In February, a Canyon County jury convicted Woods of first-degree murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and accepting earnings from a prostitute.
Several of Nelson’s family members were present in court again Tuesday and offered victim impact statements as they had during Schneider’s sentencing hearing Monday.
Nelson’s father said that when the family found out that Nelson, the youngest of his five children, was gay after he had been beaten by other high school students, he told his son that he had chosen a “difficult lifestyle.”
Nelson told his father that he hadn’t chosen, but that it was just the way he was and that the family learned to accept and support him. Nelson’s father said he spends many nights lying awake in bed and reliving the final hours of his son’s life, specifically the mile walk Nelson took to a nearby house with broken ribs and bleeding lungs.
He said that his son was loved by many and that he is constantly reminded of his son when he looks at an oil painting portraying a sunset that Nelson created which hangs in the family home.
“He will never seen another sunset,” Nelson’s father said.
He said he thinks Woods and his accomplices targeted Nelson because they could “do whatever they wanted to a gay man.”
“They thought he wouldn’t tell the authorities because of his position in society and the way that society views the gay community,” he said.
Nelson’s oldest brother told the court that he will never forget watching the sunrise from his window with a cup of coffee on the morning his little brother was walking naked down a gravel road after being robbed and severely beaten.
He said the moment that he and his wife traveled to Saint Alphonsus Hospital in Boise where his little brother had been taken and said he will never forget the moment his mother told him that his brother had died.
“My mother looked small, frail and defeated in that hallway,” he said. “That scene will be with me forever.”
Nelson’s only sister told the court that “the world is a sadder place for the people he touched and the people he would have touched.” She said her little brother probably didn’t talk about his struggles as a gay man with her because he had a loving and supportive family.
“I am proud of who he was and that he found the strength to get up and walk that morning,” she said.
Canyon County Prosecutor Christopher Boyd said that Woods planned and orchestrated Nelson’s beating and robbery and that he went out for “coffee and cinnamon rolls” shortly after the attack. He said that Woods has never shown a drop of remorse for his crime or has expressed compassion for Nelson’s family.
“He never asked about Steven’s condition or showed any remorse when talking with police,” Boyd said.
Before the incident with Nelson, he said, Woods had started an amateur prostitution ring, then had started “grab and go” schemes to steal money from would be solicitors. However, his plans became more violent when he hired Schneider, whom he knew was a violent homophobe.
“One week before the incident with Steven, Woods had planned to beat a john who hadn’t paid,” Boyd said. “He talked about using a rope, duct tape, mask and a blow torch.”
Woods’ attorney Larry Sisson argued that his client had faced struggles similar to Nelson, who was bullied as a youth due to his sexual orientation, but that Woods didn’t have the love and support of a family.
“His mother abandoned him at an early age and he lived with his alcoholic father for most of his childhood,” he said. “He was physically and emotionally abused by his grandfather and father and lost compassion for other people when he became involved with drugs at an early age.”
Sisson said that Woods was the only person “in this century” in Canyon County charged with accepting proceeds from a prostitute . He argued that Schneider was the person who actually assaulted Nelson and that a “somewhat lenient sentence would show respect for Nelson’s philosophy of compassion.”
Woods read a written statement to the court, saying that he “can’t fathom the pain the Nelson family is going through.”