Although a York City man pleaded guilty Tuesday to trying to shoot one gang adversary, it was the family of a second adversary -- 18-year-old Sharrod Snellings, who was fatally shot a year ago -- that packed the courtroom, some crying, others screaming curses at the defendant.
O'Brian William Sipe Sr., 26, of 311 E. College Ave., pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, for shooting at Jevaughn Daemar Murphy at the corner of North Queen and East Philadelphia streets on Jan. 23, 2012.
Murphy was with Snellings when they were shot at, according to York City Police. After the shooting Murphy, who escaped injury, ran into Rod's corner store to say his friend had been shot, but left the scene before detectives could speak with him.
Police allege it was Sipe's co-defendant, Richard Larry Nolden Jr., who killed Snellings.
Nolden drove by in a blue Ford Expedition rental vehicle and fired about seven gunshots, hitting Snellings a number of times, police said. One of those bullets struck Snellings in the back, and that was the fatal shot, officials said.
Sipe was in the Ford with Nolden and fired at Murphy, who was standing across the street from Snellings, police said.
As part of Sipe's negotiated plea agreement, all other charges against him were dismissed, including those for Snellings' homicide.
Sentence: He was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison and ordered to pay his share of $5,002.70 in restitution for Snellings' funeral costs.
Presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner asked Sipe what the motive for the shooting was, at which point one of Snellings' loved ones yelled, "No f--in' motive." Deputies removed that man from the courtroom.
Sipe told the judge Snellings and Murphy blamed him for a robbery he didn't commit.
"We had an altercation with them," Murphy said. "They shot, we shot. We were going back and forth with it. We just kept going back and forth.
Defense attorney Joshua Neiderhiser told the judge the other incidents of gunfire didn't happen the same day as the homicide.
Bortner said it sounded "like the Wild West."
The judge said he was "anticipating the plea would involve some sort of culpability for Mr. Snellings."
Fatherless child: Stephanie Perez, one of Snellings' aunts, read in court a statement written by Khalima Valentine, the mother of Snellings' son. The boy, named after his father, was only 3 months old when Snellings was gunned down.
"My son will have no memory of his father," Valentine wrote. "All I can do now is show him pictures and tell him ... stories about his dad. I now have to compensate so he won't have an emptiness inside."
Tanisha Silvagnoli said her entire family is "deeply saddened and broken" and described her nephew as a "loving, giving, loyal and kindhearted man and father who was stolen all too soon."
Hate-filled heart: Violet Astacio, also an aunt of Snellings, spoke directly to Sipe, her voice rising to a scream.
"My heart rages with hate," she said. "You're not sorry -- you're sorry you got caught. I hope you have a life filled with lonely, miserable days. I hope you are haunted with nightmares."
As Bortner tried to restore order, Astacio screamed curses at Sipe, and the volume of crying in the courtroom rose even higher.
Stepfather leaves: The judge said people who couldn't refrain from outbursts would have to leave the courtroom, and several did. One of them was Philip Mann, Snellings' stepfather.
"I'll never see my son (again) because of this punk-ass b--," Mann blurted out in open court.
First assistant district attorney Jennifer Russell confirmed that while the prosecution believes Sipe is as responsible for Snellings' death as the actual gunman is, there were concerns jurors might not see it that way.
Nolden, 22, of 227 Harding Court, remains in county prison without bail, charged with first-degree murder and related offenses. He has a pretrial conference scheduled for Feb. 28.
Russell said she expects Nolden's case to be resolved soon, possibly by plea agreement.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at email@example.com.
A vigil will be held Wednesday, Jan. 23, for the one-year anniversary of Sharrod Snellings' homicide. People are asked to gather at 1 p.m. at the corner of North Queen and East Philadelphia streets. The vigil will run from 1:30 to 3 p.m. People will light candles and read poems and letters, according to Tanisha Silvagnoli, one of Snellings' aunts.