Brother admits to robbery role in Whispering Wind Bear Spirit shooting death

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Two brothers are taking plea deals in charges related to a robbery that resulted in a shooting death last year.

One of the brothers, Ryan Strada, 21, of Manchester, pleaded guilty in this and three other cases Monday. According to the terms of the deal, he could serve between 10 and 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors expect his brother, 19-year-old Nicholas Strada of York City, to enter a plea next week.

Ryan Strada

Both faced second-degree murder charges after 41-year-old Whispering Wind Bear Spirit was shot and killed during a home invasion on the night of May 3, 2021.

York City police alleged Ryan came up with a plan to rob a man at a home in the 300 block of Smyser Street and take back a pound of marijuana he believed was stolen from him. Four other men were also allegedly in on the plan.

When the Strada brothers entered the house that night, police said Ryan fought the man as Nicholas pointed a gun at people inside, ordering them to stay back.

Spirit didn’t step back. Instead, she stepped toward Nicholas while trying to break up the fight, police said.

A photo of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit as they ride in a car.

The gun fired, Bear was shot in the torso and the brothers fled the house, investigators said. Bear died a few hours later at WellSpan York Hospital.

In court Monday, Ryan admitted to a felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery during a hearing before York County Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook. He said he had talked with at least one person about the robbery plan to take back the pot or money.

“Myself and at least one other individual conspired to commit a robbery,” he told the judge.

The plea agreement didn’t require him to say who he conspired with.

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Whispering Wind Bear Spirit reads a book while sitting on a couch.

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The murder charge was dismissed along with counts of robbery and burglary.

Ryan also pleaded guilty to a felony count of possession with intent to deliver drugs, saying investigators found a few ounces of THC wax during a search of his home on May 13, 2021, about 10 days after the shooting.

In one unrelated case from April 2021, Ryan pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm without a license and possession with intent to deliver drugs. In another unrelated case from 2020, he pleaded guilty to a summary disorderly conduct count.

The sentences in each case added up to between 10 and 20 years in prison.

Broken down, the sentences came to: 7 to 14 years for the robbery conspiracy charge; 30 to 60 months in the one gun and drug case; 6 to 12 months in the other drug case; and a $100 fine for the disorderly conduct.

Nicholas Strada remains charged with counts of second-degree murder, robbery, burglary and conspiracy.

Nicholas Strada

His attorney, James Robinson, asked Monday for one more week to discuss a pending plea offer with him. He said they hadn’t had much opportunity to talk due to a medical issue.

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Robinson said he was confident the two sides would reach an agreement in the case.

Judge Musti Cook agreed to reschedule Nicholas' hearing for Aug. 29.

Also accused in the case are: Oscar Cook, 20, of Spring Garden Township; Jaden Landis, 19, of Manchester; Michael Stewart, 23, of Harrisburg; and Phillip Sullivan, 19, of York Haven.

They’re each charged with counts of robbery, burglary and conspiracy with hearings scheduled in September.

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