Two York men charged with homicide

Jason Addy

Two York-area men arrested earlier in the week were charged Friday in the shooting death Jan. 15 of Ryan Michael Small.

Vernon A. Cox Jr., 29, of 130 S. Hartley St., and Leon G. White III, 27, of 1630 Mount Rose Ave., each face four felony charges stemming from Small’s death.

Cox and White face one count each of criminal homicide, robbery that inflicts serious bodily injury, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a firearm by a prohibited individual, according to charging documents.

A man who described Ryan Michael Small as "like a brother to me" puts an "R" balloon on a makeshift memorial in the 400 block of West  Princess Street, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Small, 22, was shot and killed Sunday, Jan. 15. Two men have been arrested in connection with the murder. John A. Pavoncello photo

Both men were apprehended Wednesday for outstanding warrants after evidence at the crime scene and witness testimony pointed police in their direction, York City Police Detective Jeff Spence said.

“We can’t ever do it without people in the community that assist us,” Spence said. “We had people that did the right thing and helped us out.”

About 9 p.m. Jan. 15, Small crashed his Buick Century head-on into another vehicle near Princess and Hartley streets after being shot twice in the stomach, documents state. Small was taken to York Hospital and pronounced dead just after 10 p.m.

Vernon Cox Jr.
Leon White III

Police: York City's latest homicide victim was targeted

At the scene of the crash, investigators found three bullet casings — one in Small’s car and two on South Hartley Street — as well as Small’s cellphone, documents state.

On Small’s phone, police found calls and text messages from a number associated with White, indicating White had asked Small to come to South Hartley Street to sell him marijuana, according to court documents.

During an interview with police Wednesday, White said he contacted Small so Cox could buy the marijuana, while White also informed police that the murder weapon was still at Cox’s house, documents state.

While executing a search warrant at Cox’s house Wednesday, police found a 9mm firearm and uncommon ammunition that matched the casings and bullet fragments found at the scene and during Small’s autopsy, according to court documents.

Three people inside Cox’s house during the search were questioned by police and told authorities that a man matching White’s description came to the residence Jan. 15 and left with Cox just before the shooting, documents state. Cox returned without White shortly after the shooting and crash, the witnesses told police, according to court documents.

In an interview with police, Small’s parents said when they last saw their son about 10 a.m. Jan. 15, he was wearing a watch and gold chain and had about a half-pound of marijuana on him, documents state.

Small’s parents also said he had an unknown amount of cash in his pocket and $2,000 in cash that he always kept inside the owner’s manual in his car, documents state. None of those items were found on Small when police responded to the crash, according to court documents.

Police linked the phone number used to contact Small for marijuana to White after realizing the number was involved in a separate police incident on the day of the shooting, documents state.

A woman involved in that other incident contacted police about White sending threatening messages from his phone, documents state. She told police that White told her “he went to buy weed from Small and Small tried to play him, so he shot him twice in the stomach,” according to court documents.

Marissa Hedrick, 7, of York, holds a sign as a group of concerned citizens march along the 400 block of West Princess Street in the first Stop the Violence rally of the year, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. The march ended near the spot where Ryan Michael Small, 22, was shot and killed Sunday, Jan. 15. Two men have been arrested in connection with the murder. John A. Pavoncello photo

The woman also provided police with the clothing that White had told her to get rid of after the shooting, documents state.

The clothing tested positive for the presence of gunshot residue, and blood was found on one of White’s shirts, according to court documents.

Cox and White were prohibited from possessing a firearm because of previous convictions. Cox was found guilty for a January 2006 felony robbery, while White pleaded guilty to felony drug charges in January 2008, documents state.

Cox and White remain in York County Prison with their bails from previous cases revoked.