Trial ahead for York City man accused of killing 2-year-old Dante Mullinix

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Dante Mullinix

The York City man accused of killing 2-year-old Dante Mullinix is now facing trial in York County Court, but his defense attorney and the child's aunt say he's innocent.

Tyree Marche'll Bowie, 39, of Linden Avenue, appeared for his preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 12, before District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf, where chief deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy called two witnesses.

At the close of the hearing, Oberdorf determined enough evidence exists for Bowie to stand trial in York County Court, then set Bowie's formal court arraignment for Jan. 18. Bowie remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide and child endangerment.

York City Police Detective Kyle Hower, the lead investigator in the case, testified against Bowie, as did Dr. Wayne Ross, Dauphin County's forensic pathologist.

Hower testified that city officers were called to York Hospital about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 6 for a report of an unresponsive child — Dante. Court records state Dante was transferred to Hershey Medical Center, where he died Sept 14.

He died one week before his third birthday.

Dropped off mother: Bowie and Dante dropped off Dante's mother, Leah Mullinix, at York Hospital at 8:25 p.m. that day after she complained of a migraine, according to Hower. Security video shows she didn't leave the hospital for the next few hours, he said.

Bowie had picked up Leah Mullinix and Dante that day from the shelter where they had been living, testimony revealed.

Hower said Bowie gave him conflicting stories about what happened after that. He said Bowie told him Dante choked on cookies and became unresponsive near the corner of South George and Maple streets, then later said the choking episode happened in a Manchester Township home on Lexton Drive.

Tyree Bowie

"(His) stories varied," Hower testified.

Bowie said he and Dante stopped at the Rutter's Farm Store at 2125 Susquehanna Trail, according to Hower, who viewed security video from the store.

That video, recorded about 8:39 p.m., showed Dante was able to walk on his own, the detective said, adding that Bowie was the only person caring for Dante from the time his mother was dropped off at York Hospital until he became unresponsive.

Cross-examination: On cross-examination by defense attorney Farley Holt, Hower confirmed Bowie said Dante had trouble breathing earlier in the day and that his eyes had rolled back in his head at one point.

Bowie also said he heard a muffled cry from Dante earlier that day, and when he went to investigate he saw Leah Mullinix putting cover-up makeup in her pocket, Hower testified.

Bowie recounted that's when Mullinix said she had a migraine and needed to go to the hospital, Hower confirmed. The detective said Bowie made the statement only during his second interview, not his first.

Ross, the forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Dante's body, testified Dante died of severe traumatic brain injury as well as strangulation and chest compression. The brain injury was fatal on its own, he said, but the strangulation and chest compression were deadly too.

Brain bleeding: There were bruises on the boy's scalp and all over his body, as well as bleeding on both sides of his brain and at the base of his brain, Ross testified.

Dante also was strangled and suffered severe bruising to his neck, the pathologist said.

Dante Mullinix was two weeks shy of his third birthday when he was killed.

Ross testified Dante didn't have those injuries at the time he was caught on Rutter's security video walking on his own.

"The injuries he had were so ... incapacitating, there's no way he'd be walking around like in the video," Ross said.

On cross-examination, Holt asked the doctor whether he found makeup on Dante's body to hide bruising. Ross said he couldn't recall.

"My client is absolutely innocent in this case," Holt said after the hearing, adding he intends to prove it at trial. "And in addition, I'm going to prove who did."

Family has doubts: Dante's aunt, Sarah Mullinix, attended Wednesday's hearing and supports Bowie.

She and other members of the Mullinix family have no contact with Dante's mother and believe others are responsible for Dante's death. They run a Facebook page called Justice For Dante.

Leah Mullinix didn't attend the hearing and couldn't be reached for comment.

Although she initially was subpoenaed to appear, her subpoena was withdrawn and she wasn't required to attend, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

After the hearing, Sarah Mullinix said Dante was physically abused by people with whom his mother associates, including a boyfriend who is a member of the Latin Kings street gang.

Abuse reported: The York County Office of Children, Youth and Families and the Adams County Office of Children and Youth Services were notified about abuse to Dante prior to his homicide, according to Sarah Mullinix.

Bowie's supporters at Wednesday's hearing said he anonymously reported to Children and Youth the concerns he had that Dante was being abused.

York County spokesman Mark Walters has said York County's Office of Children, Youth and Families was involved with Dante's family as of Sept. 1.

Sarah Mullinix had been fighting in Adams County Court to win custody of Dante from his mother, she and attorney Holt confirmed. She said Dante and his mother lived with her in Adams County prior to moving to a shelter.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.