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

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Medical professionals described in intense detail Wednesday the injuries that 2-year-old Dante Mullinix suffered in September 2018 — both on the night he was brought unresponsive to York Hospital and during an exam four days prior.

The testimony opened the second day of evidence in the trial of Tyree Bowie, the man charged in Dante’s death.

Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, a small group of Bowie’s friends and supporters demonstrated with signs that read “Free Tyree” and “Justice For Dante.”

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“Tyree is innocent,” said Heather Smith, of Dover Township. “Lock the real killer up.”

A group of friends and supporters gather outside the York County Judicial Center to rally for Tyree Bowie during his trial. Bowie is charged with murder in the death of a 2-year-old boy in 2018.

She and other supporters believe Bowie is being wrongly prosecuted and that investigators didn't go far enough investigating other people close to the boy.

Bowie, 43, is charged with first- and third-degree murder and a count of child endangerment.

Tyree Bowie

Prosecutors allege he brutalized the 2-year-old boy the night of Sept. 6, 2018, at some point during the hour and 40 minutes he watched him while the boy's mother, Leah Mullinix, went to the hospital for a migraine.

First Assistant District Attorney Tim Barker described a scene of savagery in opening statements Tuesday. He detailed severe injuries and bruising found all over Dante’s body that indicated he’d been strangled, kicked, bitten at one point, punched and slammed to the ground hard enough to cause fatal brain and spinal damage.

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Bowie’s attorney, Farley Holt, argued Bowie had watched Dante after taking Leah Mullinix to York Hospital so she could be checked out for migraines that night.

Holt noted that Bowie had concerns about Dante’s welfare earlier that day, as well as prior to that. Holt said Bowie was one of the people who had called York County Children, Youth and Families to report concerns about Dante’s care over the weeks prior.

Dante Mullinix

Holt also alleged Mullinix was seen applying cover up on Dante, apparently to hide bruising.

On Sept. 6, after the two hung out, Bowie started to take Dante back to the hospital and fed him a cookie, Holt said. But Dante started to choke, and Holt said Bowie attempted a crude CPR and other efforts to get the cookie out of the boy’s mouth, apparently in the car. Then he drove Dante to the hospital while the boy was unresponsive and walked him into the emergency department.

A nurse on duty rushed Dante back for emergency treatment.

Dr. Martha Barrett, an emergency physician at the hospital, took over with her residents that night. She testified Wednesday to the life-saving treatment her team performed.

Dante wasn’t breathing and appeared gray and limp, Barrett testified. He had to be intubated, and a medical resident noticed swelling in his throat.

After a couple minutes, she said they got Dante’s pulse back and restarted his breathing. But the boy never regained consciousness.

“He did not become conscious that I recall,” Barrett said. “I did not see any response from the child at any point during my care.”

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

Barrett said that over the course of the treatment, she noticed bruising over Dante’s body, in various states of healing and with some appearing fresh. In particular, she noted marks on the right side of his neck and forehead, an apparent bite mark on his arm and what looked like a cigarette burn in his genital area.

CAT scans of Dante’s head and spine, as well as a chest X-ray were also performed to check for internal injuries as the team prepared for the boy to be flown to Hershey Medical Center for further treatment, she said.

Barrett said the scans showed a large bruise on Dante’s head and bleeding between his brain and skull, but it didn’t appear significant enough to call for immediate surgery in York.

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Under prosecution questioning, Barrett said her team didn’t see any evidence that Dante choked on cookies, that they didn’t see any food particles or crumbs on the boy’s skin, nor were substances removed from his airway.

She also didn’t notice any makeup on Dante’s face.

“I did not personally observe that,” she said, adding she didn’t remember looking closely at his torso to see anything similar.

Tyree Bowie in an photo submitted by family.

When asked by Holt, Barrett acknowledged the swelling in Dante’s throat could have been related to a choking incident.

“A significant choking obstruction could cause some edema, sure,” she said.

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Michelle Frey, a registered nurse and forensic nurse examiner, was called in during the emergency treatment to document the trauma on Dante’s body. In the hospital, she said she didn’t recognize the little boy she’d examined at her office four days prior.

Frey went into detail Wednesday about the extent of the injuries she’d documented on Sept. 6, through photos and by filling out body diagrams. She said numerous bruises she saw were new compared with what she saw earlier that week.

Like Barrett, Frey said her eyes were drawn first to a large bruise on Dante’s face and neck.

“It was just one big bruise,” she said.

She also noted that for some parts of his body, she had to fill out multiple diagrams.

“It was too many … to accurately portray,” she said, meaning too many injuries for just one diagram.

Frey went through photo after photo of documented injuries from Dante’s head to literally his toes. Based on their colorations, some bruises seemed fresh and others were in different states of healing. She also took sample swabs of a bite mark, measuring about four to five millimeters across, on Dante’s right arm. She said she saved the samples for investigation.

Frey testified she didn’t see any food particles or makeup on Dante that night.

Earlier that week, on Sept. 2, Frey had examined Dante when Mullinix and a CYF caseworker brought him to York Hospital over concerns about the state of his balanitis, a genital infection he was earlier diagnosed as having, and a bruise on his head.

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Frey said Dante seemed otherwise fine, that he was walking and playful, not behaving abnormally for him — he was a generally nonverbal child, she said. She also filled out body diagrams of Dante that day, noting several bruises of various states, small abrasions on his face and body, skin redness and what looked like bug bites on his legs.

The boy's genitals also appeared swollen and discolored, the medical professionals testified. Though later, according to trial testimony, doctors found Dante’s balanitis was actually a case of herpes.

Dr. Barrett, in her testimony, noted she saw what looked like ulcerations around the boy’s genitals on Sept. 6.

Frey said she and a coworker had talked to Mullinix on Sept. 2, about properly applying prescription cream.

They supplied Mullinix with the prescription and a folder of information as the mother and child were discharged. Frey said she didn’t believe further examination or follow-up appointments were needed.

Bowie’s supporters gathered outside the judicial center Wednesday, spurred by a belief that the wrong suspect was charged — and by social media accounts that led prosecutors to seek a change of venue prior to the trial.

The “Justice For Dante” Facebook page was created by Dante’s aunt, Sarah Mullinix, shortly after his death, several days after he was transferred to Hershey Medical Center. Sarah Mullinix believes CYF failed to prevent Dante’s death by not responding with more urgency to reports she and others made about his welfare.

Leah Mullinix

Like the protesters, Sarah Mullinix believes Bowie's taking the fall for the actions of others.

Leah Mullinix is also charged in the case, facing a felony count of child endangerment. Her next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18, according to court records.

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