Mother of slain York City 2-year-old faces trial
The mother of a York City 2-year-old who was killed last year now faces trial for allegedly neglecting the boy before his death in September.
Leah Lynnette Mullinix, who is charged with child endangerment, waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Jan. 24.
Her son, Dante Mullinix, died in September after he was left in the care of Tyree Marche'll Bowie, York City Police have said. Leah Mullinix only knew Bowie for a few weeks before leaving her son in his care, officials said.
In addition to leaving Dante with Bowie, police allege she failed to provide basic care for her son, to the point where staff at the shelter where she was staying had to file a child-abuse report against her with the state.
Dante, according to authorities, was taken to York Hospital with injuries about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 6, and he was later transferred to Hershey Hospital, where he died Sept. 14.
His death came a week before his third birthday.
Hearing: Charges were filed Jan. 3, and Leah Mullinix was sent to prison on $10,000 bail.
On Thursday, District Judge Ronald Haskell Jr. allowed her bail to change to $10,000 unsecured, meaning she would be free but could have to forfeit that much should she miss court proceedings.
Her attorney, Seamus Dubbs, said the prosecution wasn't opposed to the change, and Mullinix will be supervised by York County Probation once she is released.
She still needs to speak with probation officials and get things sorted out before leaving, Dubbs said.
Her attorney said she should be out of prison within a few days. He declined additional comment.
Left in care: Police filed homicide and child endangerment charges against Bowie in September, and it wasn't until Jan. 3 that police charged Mullinix with child endangerment.
During Bowie's preliminary hearing in December, Detective Kyle Hower testified that Bowie and Dante dropped off Mullinix at York Hospital at 8:25 p.m. Sept. 6 after she complained of a migraine. Hower said security footage showed she didn't leave the hospital for the next few hours.
Bowie had picked up Leah Mullinix and Dante that day from a 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.
Injuries: 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.
Dr. Wayne Ross, the Dauphin County forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Dante's body, testified the boy 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.
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.
He also testified Dante didn't have those injuries at the time he was caught on Rutter's security video walking on his own.
Family has doubts: Dante's aunt, Sarah Mullinix, attended Bowie's hearing last month 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.
Following the hearing she told The York Dispatch that Dante was physically abused by people with whom his mother associates, including a boyfriend who is a member of the Latin Kings street gang.
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 before his death, according to Sarah Mullinix.
She had been fighting in Adams County Court to win custody of Dante from his mother, she and Bowie's attorney, Farley Holt, confirmed. She said Dante and his mother lived with her in Adams County before moving to a shelter.
Prescription not filled: In addition to Leah Mullinix not knowing Bowie long before leaving him in his care, police said, Leah Mullinix waited two days to fill a prescription for medication to treat a "very painful condition" that Dante had.
Charging documents state she took her son to York Hospital on Aug. 31 for what staff believed to be balanitis, a genital infection caused by improper hygiene.
Police said Leah Mullinix told hospital staff she believed her son had been suffering from the condition for four days before she took him to the hospital. However, medical staff told police it might have been longer than that, according to court documents.
She was given a prescription for medication that day, but she didn't fill the prescription for two days, according to authorities.
There were several complaints made by staff at the shelter alleging Dante had been screaming in pain there, officials said.
On Sept. 1, staffers filed a child abuse report with the state because Leah Mullinix wasn't caring for her son, police said. On Sept. 2, York County's Office of Children, Youth and Families made Leah Mullinix fill the prescriptions, charging documents state.
Police said shelter staff had to show Leah Mullinix how to use the medication, and the staff had to administer it themselves.
Her charge of endangering child welfare is graded as a felony because of "ongoing course of conduct," according to charging documents.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.