Brothers' trial in death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit postponed

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Two brothers who expected to go on trial this week in the shooting death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit have had the case postponed.

Ryan Strada, 21, of Manchester, and his brother Nicholas Strada, 18, of York City, appeared together for a call-of-the-list hearing in a York County courtroom Thursday as Judge Kathleen Prendergast granted a request to postpone their trial.

The two were scheduled to go to trial beginning Monday, accused of causing the death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, 41, at a home in York City last year. They’re both charged with second-degree murder along with robbery, burglary and conspiracy counts.

Four other suspects are also charged in the case. Investigators allege the group, including the Stradas, planned to rob a man, Oscar Fink, and take back a pound of marijuana that they accused the man of stealing from Ryan Strada.

From left, Ryan Strada and Nicholas Strada

On the night of May 3, 2021, investigators said one of the other suspects, Jaden Landis, unlocked the front door of a home in the 300 block of Smyser Street and let Ryan Strada inside. Strada allegedly zeroed in on Fink and began fighting him, while Nicholas Strada followed with a gun drawn and pointed in the front hallway.

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Spirit, whom loved ones called “Bear,” took action by shielding other people in the house and trying to get the brothers to leave as Nicholas Strada pointed the gun as a warning for everyone to stay back, according to police.

In the process, as Spirit approached, Nicholas Strada fired, and Spirit was shot in the torso, investigators said. Witnesses told police Strada seemed surprised, and then the Stradas fled the house along with three of the other suspects. The fourth was left behind.

Spirit died from the injury a short time later.

During Thursday’s hearing, Judge Prendergast set Aug. 22 as new hearing date to discuss progress in the case.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Melanie Wiesman also pointed out plea offers are on the table for the Stradas, in which the murder counts would be dropped. Those offers will expire Aug. 22 if not accepted.

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For Nicholas Strada, Wiesman explained he could face a 15-to-30-year prison sentence on charges in the plea. Ryan Strada would face a 10-to-20-year sentence on charges in this case bundled with charges from a few other cases.

Should the case go to trial and a jury find them guilty, a second-degree murder conviction carries an automatic life sentence in Pennsylvania.

(From left to right) Phillip Cornelius Sullivan, Oscar David Cook, Michael Page Stewart and Jaden Tyler Landis.

The other four suspects are Landis, 19, of the Manchester area; Oscar Cook, 20, of Spring Garden Township; Michael Stewart, 23, of Harrisburg; and Phillip Sullivan, 19, of York Haven. They each face charges of robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit both.

Both of the Stradas remain in York County Prison without 

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.