Slain tot Dante Mullinix's mother and alleged killer in court
The mother of 2-year-old York City homicide victim Dante Mullinix said family members who believe she killed her son are blinded by their hate for her.
"They haven't even seen the evidence," Leah Mullinix said in the York County Judicial Center last week. "Detective (Kyle) Hower saw it, the coroner saw it and the district attorney saw it. They know (Tyree Bowie) is the guilty one."
Both Mullinix and Tyree Marche'll Bowie appeared for pretrial conferences Thursday, April 11, before Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner.
Mullinix, 22, is charged with the third-degree felony of child endangerment. Free on supervised bail, she is due to give birth to her second child in June.
Bowie, 40, of Linden Avenue in York City, remains in York County Prison without bail, charged with first- and third-degree murder and child endangerment.
Both are due back in court June 13 for their next pretrial conferences.
York City Police allege Bowie fatally injured Dante while watching the boy Sept. 6.
They allege Mullinix endangered her son by leaving him in the care of Bowie — a man she'd only known for two or three weeks.
Bowie's criminal record includes a 2008 guilty plea in York County Court to child endangerment and a 2019 guilty plea in Dauphin County Court to fleeing police and driving under the influence. He also has been accused of assault in the past.
Police say Mullinix also endangered her son by neglecting to treat him for a "very painful" genital infection.
Screamed in pain: Charging documents state she waited two days to fill a prescription for medication to treat Dante's balanitis, an infection caused by improper hygiene.
Staff members at the shelter where Mullinix and Dante were staying reported that Dante had been screaming in pain, according to police.
On Sept. 1, the shelter filed a child abuse report with the state alleging 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, court documents state.
Police said shelter staff had to show Leah Mullinix how to use the medication, and the staff had to administer it themselves.
"I did not ever neglect or abuse my child. I loved my son," Mullinix told The York Dispatch outside Judge Bortner's courtroom on Thursday. "I understand why the charges were filed against me. But at the end of the day, I'm not the real perpetrator."
Bowie maintains his innocence. At his pretrial conference Thursday, the gallery behind him was filled with his supporters, who included both his family members and family members of Mullinix.
His defense attorney, Farley Holt, told Bortner he needs more time to go through the "voluminous" amount of discovery evidence provided to the defense by prosecutors.
Outside the courtroom, Holt said he not only intends to prove at trial that Bowie is innocent, he also intends to reveal the identity of the actual killer to jurors.
"Do I have proof yet? No, but I'm working on it," he said. "There are only so many people who had access to the child."
Mullinix said she's currently living with friends.
"I'm hoping to be able to move on with my life," she said, but said she doubts she will leave York County once her case is resolved.
"My son is buried here," Mullinix said.
The background: Hower, the lead detective in the case of Dante's homicide, has previously testified that Dante died Sept. 14 — a week before his third birthday.
Bowie and Dante dropped off Mullinix at York Hospital at 8:25 p.m. Sept. 6 after she complained of a migraine, according to Hower. Security video shows she didn't leave the hospital for the next few hours, Hower said.
Bowie had picked up Mullinix and Dante that day from the shelter, 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.
"(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 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 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.
Dauphin County-based forensic pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross testified at Bowie's preliminary hearing that Dante died of severe traumatic brain injury as well as strangulation and chest compression.
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.
Ross testified Dante didn't have those injuries at the time he was caught on Rutter's security video, walking on his own, with Bowie.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.