Trial begins for man accused of killing 2-year-old Dante Mullinix

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

The question for jurors over the next two weeks will come down to this: Who caused the injuries that took 2-year-old Dante Mullinix’s life more than four years ago?

Did Tyree Bowie, the York City man charged with murder by prosecutors, “brutally beat” the boy during the hour and 40 minutes the two were alone together in September 2018?

Or was Bowie on the “wrong end of a good deed,” as his attorney put it, that night when he watched Dante as pre-existing injuries and illnesses built up to a choking incident?

Medical professionals detail 2-year-old Dante Mullinix's injuries

“I’m going to show my client didn’t do it … that more likely than not, it was the mother who did this,” defense attorney Farley Holt told jurors. “Dante Mullinix was doomed before my client ever got involved with him.”

Opening arguments in Bowie’s trial began Tuesday afternoon following a day and a half of jury selection. The 43-year-old is charged with first- and third-degree murder along with one count of child endangerment.

Doctors and medical examiners found a variety of injuries to Dante’s body that, according to First Assistant District Attorney Tim Barker, put together a picture of a savage assault that destroyed the child the night of Sept. 6, 2018.

Tyree Bowie

Barker described red handprints on Dante’s face and neck that indicated strangulation, devastating chest injuries, bruises all over the body, genital problems, a bite mark, and severe head and spinal cord injuries.

“It was the defendant who in that hour-and-40-minute window brutally beat in the head, the body, kicked the genitals, punched, stomped, suffocated, compressed the chest of Dante Mullinix, strangled him, and ultimately slammed him into the ground, causing irreparable brain damage, damage to the spine,” Barker said.

The investigation, which both sides described, showed Bowie was acquainted with Dante and his mother, Leah Mullinix, and the three were together throughout the day on Sept. 6.

Around 8:30 that night, they went to York Hospital so Leah Mullinix could get checked out for a migraine.

Dante Mullinix

Bowie agreed to watch Dante.

They drove around, stopped at a gas station and went back to the house where Bowie was staying at the time.

Sometime later, around 10 that night, Bowie started to take Dante back to the hospital.

But, according to Holt, the child appeared to choke on a cookie.

Holt described the situation, saying Bowie apparently pulled Dante onto the driver’s seat and attempted some kind of CPR. That led to mushy chunks of cookie blowing through Dante’s sinuses onto Bowie, Holt said.

“This case is a mess. And you’re going to see it’s a mess," he said.

Security camera video, shown during the trial, showed Bowie driving up to York Hospital’s emergency department, pulling Dante out of the car with him, and meeting Leah Mullinix at the door.

The three then walk in with Dante unresponsive in Bowie’s arms.

A nurse inside rushed the boy to the emergency department. Dante was flown to Hershey Medical Center, where he died a few days later.

Barker rejected the defense arguments that choking on cookies occurred and that Dante’s unresponsiveness was the result of injuries committed by Mullinix or others that manifested over time.

He alleged Bowie gave conflicting statements to police during the investigation.

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Barker described the injuries as immediate, occurring sometime after Bowie and Dante left the gas station that night and before they returned to the hospital, with Dante wearing only a diaper.

“He ultimately died from the trauma to his brain; ultimately died from that, with the strangulation and the suffocation, the compressions. ... And did so in that window when he was alone with the defendant,” Barker said.

Testimony in the trial resumes Wednesday.

The attorneys estimated the case could run two weeks.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.