Plea talks underway with alleged accomplices in fatal robbery

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Three men charged in connection with an alleged robbery plot that led to the fatal shooting of Whispering Wind Bear Spirit last year are now grouped into the same court date.

County prosecutors, who said they are negotiating plea agreements, are focusing on the alleged accomplices after the gunman and his brother pleaded guilty last month.

Nicholas Strada, 19, admitted he fired the gun that shot and killed Spirit, 41, in a house in the 300 block Smyser Street in May 2021.

Nicholas Strada

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He pulled the gun to keep people in the house back while his brother Ryan Strada, 21, fought with a man he believed stole marijuana from him. The plan was to get the pot or cash back, prosecutors said.

During the fight, police said Spirit walked toward the brothers to break up the fight, and the gun fired. Spirit died of their injuries in the hospital two hours later.

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

Along with the Strada brothers, four other men were also charged with having roles to help with the robbery.

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 felony counts of robbery and burglary and conspiracy to commit each.

Jaden Tyler Landis

Sullivan, Stewart and Landis are now due to return to the York County Court of Common Pleas on Nov. 14 following hearings in their cases over the past week. Cook’s up next with a hearing set for Thursday.

Investigators said the four went to the Smyser Street address ahead of the Stradas as part of the alleged robbery plan and hung out for a while.

Shortly before the plan was set into motion, police said, Cook went outside and met the brothers. He then walked back in, a witness said they heard the front doorknob jiggle, and they locked it, according to details in a criminal complaint.

Oscar David Cook

A witness told police they heard Cook tell Landis their ride was there, and Landis unlocked the door.

The Strada brothers then walked in and the fight began, police said, ultimately leading to the shooting.

Nicholas Strada told a judge he fired the gun in the heat of the moment and didn’t intend to shoot Spirit.

As Spirit fell, injured, most of the suspects fled. Police noted Cook was left at the scene by Stewart, Sullivan and Landis.

The charges were filed against all six suspects as the investigation progressed.

Michael Page Stewart

Ryan Strada pleaded guilty Aug. 22 to a count of conspiracy to commit robbery, and was sentenced to 10-20 years in prison.

Nicholas Strada pleaded guilty a week later to third-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. He was then sentenced to 12-25 years in state prison.

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Stewart and Sullivan were in court Sept. 12 for hearings where prosecutors said negotiations are underway to resolve their cases. Landis appeared for a similar hearing Monday.

Phillip Cornelius Sullivan

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