Trial in 2-year-old Dante Mullinix's death expected to begin next week
More than four years after his arrest, a York City man appears ready to go to trial next week on accusations he killed a 2-year-old boy during a babysitting favor.
Jury selection in the homicide case against Tyree Bowie is scheduled to begin Monday, Dec. 5.
Attorneys on both sides signaled they’re ready to go during a hearing Tuesday. They also agreed on a list of supplemental questions to ask potential jurors during the selection process.
The updated questions were added as a compromise over concerns about pre-trial publicity by both media and an advocacy page on Facebook. Bowie, 43, faces counts of first- and third-degree murder as well as child endangerment.
Investigators allege he caused the death of 2-year-old Dante Mullinix while he watched the boy for a couple of hours as they apparently went around town on the evening of Sept. 6, 2018.
Bowie had agreed to take Dante so the child’s mother, Leah Mullinix, could go to York Hospital for a medical issue, according to court records.
As they went out, Bowie gave Dante some cookies. But Dante began choking on the cookies at one point, according to what Bowie allegedly told police while under questioning.
Bowie then took the boy to the hospital for care.
Police soon responded to a call about an unresponsive child at the facility.
Dante died a little more than a week later. An autopsy listed traumatic brain injury, strangulation and chest compression as the causes.
Bowie was charged that Sept. 6, according to court documents, which was the same date he had Dante. He’s been jailed at York County Prison since September 2018, awaiting trial.
Social media campaign: Meanwhile, Dante’s aunt, Sarah Mullinix, has led a social media campaign on the boy’s behalf via the Facebook page Justice For Dante. She argues Bowie was wrongly charged, while those she believes responsible for the boy’s death have escaped prosecution.
She also faults the York County office of Children, Youth and Families for failing to adequately respond to concerns about Dante’s welfare in the months and weeks before he died.
As part of her advocacy, Sarah Mullinix leased a billboard along Interstate 83 near Emigsville in late April of this year, days before Bowie was scheduled to go trial in May. The message blamed CYF for leaving Dante to die.
The York County District Attorney’s Office raised concerns the billboard and media coverage of it, as well as ongoing coverage and Mullinix’s continuing Facebook advocacy, could taint prospective jurors for Bowie’s trial.
The office sought permission to assemble a jury from outside York County and bring them here for the trial. The request was denied.
Prosecutors opted then to compromise with Bowie’s attorney on using the list of supplemental questions during jury selection, which is set to begin Dec. 5.
Federal lawsuit: Sarah Mullinix also has led a federal lawsuit against the local judge in the case, Gregory Snyder, since 2021.
She alleged her First Amendment rights were violated when she was ordered to delete Facebook posts that showed images of evidence she had obtained. The images, she argued, supported her allegations against CYF.
Snyder argued his order protected evidence, that Mullinix took the wrong legal route to make her case and that the federal court can’t interfere with his role as trial judge.
A final decision on whether to grant declaratory relief in that case has not yet been issued.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.