Man pleads guilty in death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, says robbery 'went wrong'

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A York City man admitted he shot and killed a person during a home invasion and robbery last year, alleging the victim came at him with a bottle.

Nicholas Strada, 19, pleaded guilty Monday to felony counts of third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery in the death of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit during a York County Court of Common Pleas hearing.

The other charges against him, including a second-degree murder count, were withdrawn.

He said he joined his brother, Ryan Strada, 21, in a plan to rob a man at his home in the 300 block of Smyser Street and take back about a pound of marijuana that Ryan Strada said was stolen from him on May 3, 2021.

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York City Police said Ryan Strada started fighting with the man as soon as they got into the house. Nicholas Strada backed his brother up by drawing a gun to keep other people inside away.

But Spirit, 41, approached the two brothers while trying to get them out of the house.

During his plea hearing, Nicholas Strada alleged Spirit came toward him with a bottle, and he fired at them in the heat of the moment.

“The person stood up and tried to hit me in the head with a bottle,” he said.

Spirit died at a hospital a couple hours later from the bullet wound.

The criminal complaint by York City Police in this case makes no mention of Spirit holding a bottle.

Nicholas Strada

Nicholas Strada told York County Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook the shooting was unintentional that it “just happened.”

“It was basically a robbery that went wrong, and somebody got shot,” he said.

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The third-degree murder charge was added as part of the plea agreement, which acted as a downgrade from the second-degree murder count Strada previously faced.

Counts of robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary were also withdrawn.

Musti Cook then sentenced him to 12-25 years in state prison.

Broken down, that was 12-25 years on the murder count and 10-20 years on the conspiracy count with both terms running concurrently. Strada was given 429 days credit for time already served at York County Prison.

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His plea came a week after Ryan Strada pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to a felony count of conspiracy to commit robbery for his role in the case.

He also admitted to charges in three other cases and was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison as part of the overall agreement.

Ryan Strada

Four other men are also charged for having roles in this case.

Oscar Cook, 20, of Spring Garden Township; Jaden Landis, 19, of Manchester; Michael Stewart, 23, of Harrisburg; and Phillip Sullivan, 19, of York Haven each face counts of robbery, burglary and conspiracy.

All four have court hearings scheduled for dates in September.

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