Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Two face multiple charges related to Skiff's death in PA

[Channel 16 reported last night that one of the accused said the victim was "gay' and had touched his leg; I cannot find this reported in print as yet.]

Two face multiple charges related to Skiff's death - News - Citizens Voice
PLAINS TWP. - Just seconds after two Wilkes-Barre men heard the 28 total charges brought against them in the disappearance and death of Donald Skiff, they turned their attention on each other.

"You're dead," Michael J. Simonson said coolly, eyeing his co-defendant Elvis Aaron Riccardi across the cramped district magistrate's hearing room. "You're dead, bro. I'm killing you. Watch."

Authorities moved quickly between the two men, both of them shackled and wearing prison jumpsuits.

Riccardi responded outside while being led into a Pennsylvania State Police cruiser: "[Expletive] him. I'm going to kill him."

Investigators say Riccardi and Simonson punched and kicked their victim, bound his feet and drove around in his pickup truck while trying to extract $2,400 from his bank account using his ATM card. Then, investigators say, at least one of the men drove Skiff deep into wooded state game lands, lead him off the road, forced him to his knees and hit him in the head with a tree branch, killing him.

Riccardi, 31, of Wilkes-Barre, and Simonson, 32, of Plains Township, were arraigned Monday afternoon before District Magistrate Diane Malast on charges of criminal homicide, kidnapping, theft, evidence tampering and conspiracy.

"The circumstances here were just awful," Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Carroll said. "The fact that [Skiff's family] lost a family member and a friend to a homicide is one thing, but, to not know over the past month where he had been and to have his remains found in the woods, I think that is something that affects all of us."

Skiff, 34, was fishing late into the night of April 27 with two friends on Canal Street, Shickshinny. In interviews with police, those friends said two men with descriptions matching Riccardi and Simonson walked out of the nearby Martini's Bar and "attempted to provoke trouble," according to court documents....

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