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May 02, 2017

Rape suspect's bail lowered after fiancée pleads for mercy days before wedding

Nicole Riddle stood before Common Pleas Court Judge Tracy Brandeis-Roman on Monday in a last-ditch effort to ensure her wedding could proceed as scheduled this upcoming weekend.

Her fiancé, Khalif Skinner, had remained in custody since a March 17 arrest on charges including rape, statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors.

The victim of the assault, which occurred in a vehicle, is 14-year-old female, according to court records and testimony. Her name was not mentioned in court.

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Assistant District Attorney Raphael Castro laid out some details of the case, which was originally heard in Family Court due to the victim’s age. 

Castro claimed the suspect was driving with the girl and raped her in the back seat. He noted the victim “complied for the first five minutes” but when she asked Skinner to stop, he didn’t. 

He also noted his opposition to a reduction in bail because “the defendant has a 12-year-old daughter.”

After introducing Riddle and a pair of other character witnesses, including a minister who vouched for the 33-year-old South Philadelphia man, defense attorney Joseph Lento told Brandeis-Roman that the May 16 bail-reduction hearing needed to be fast-tracked.

That's because Riddle wanted the $150,000 bail “lowered to an amount that he could get out" so they can get married Saturday. Riddle pleaded for mercy while acknowledging the egregious nature of the charges against her fiancé.

“There are some inconsistencies in the statements. I’ll leave it at that,” Lento told the judge, noting that the defendant had an unrelated open charge in Willingboro, N.J.

After some intra-courthouse phone maneuvering, the hearing moved over to Judge Robert Coleman’s room. There, the bail was lowered to $75,000, with 10 percent required.

Court documents indicate Skinner, a trucking contractor who studied at World Harvest Bible College, made bail on Monday and has been released from custody.

Lento politely declined to comment on the case when contacted Tuesday morning, and Riddle did not respond to a Facebook message.

Skinner is due back in court for a pre-trial conference 10 days after the wedding.