Videos track mother the night 2-year-old Dante Mullinix arrived at ER
Leah Mullinix sat in the York Hospital's ER waiting room for about an hour and a half on the night of Sept. 6, 2018.
She was dropped off there after complaining of a migraine, investigators reported.
As she waited to be seen, Mullinix, then 21, sat on a couch and hanged her head a few times, once curled up and laid down for a few minutes, and spent much of the time on her phone.
Meanwhile, her friend, Tyree Bowie, took her 2-year-old son, Dante Mullinix, to a Rutter’s gas station about 10 minutes after dropping her off at the hospital.
Bowie walks with Dante through the store, holding his hand at times, and makes a purchase after a few minutes. The cashier bags a bottle of alcohol.
During the sale, Bowie bends down and puts his arm around Dante in what looks like a brief hug or a comforting rub.
The two then walk out of the store, Bowie puts Dante in the rear passenger seat of a car, and then gets in the driver’s seat and drives away.
About an hour and 40 minutes later, Leah Mullinix stands outside the hospital’s emergency entrance, shifts her feet several times and talks on her phone.
Bowie drives up about four minutes later. He pulls Dante out of the driver’s seat with him, meets Leah Mullinix at the door, and hurries into the facility, holding the unconscious, nearly lifeless boy to his chest.
A York County jury viewed security camera video clips of Leah, Dante and Bowie during the third day of testimony in Bowie’s homicide trial.
The 43-year-old Bowie is charged with murder and child endangerment as the suspect in Dante’s death.
Investigators allege Bowie beat and brutalized the boy during the hour and 40 minutes the two were together between the Rutter’s visit and their arrival at the hospital.
They pointed to several significant and alarming injuries that covered Dante, mixed with other bruises in various stages of healing, that were new, not seen before that night. According to police, the toddler died from head, chest and suffocation trauma several days later.
Bowie’s attorney, Farley Holt, argues that Leah Mullinix and others were responsible for abuse Dante endured. On Sept. 6, he alleges, Dante started feeling the effects of existing trauma which culminated with him choking on a cookie while in Bowie’s care.
Holt said his client attempted a crude CPR and resuscitation before driving Dante back to the hospital. Prosecutors, meanwhile, argued no evidence of a cookie was found on or in the child.
Dana Ward, who was a York County District Attorney’s Office detective in 2018, reviewed videos he helped gather during the investigation. The batch showed Leah and Dante Mullinix together at an abuse shelter in York City the morning of the Sept. 6, and then again leaving the shelter around 8:10 p.m. that night.
About 15 minutes later, Leah Mullinix is seen getting out of the passenger seat of a car, allegedly driven by Bowie, in the parking area outside York Hospital’s emergency department.
Video shows her checking in before sitting on a couch in the waiting area around 8:30 p.m.
Bowie parks at the Rutter’s along Susquehanna Trail around 8:40, helps Dante out of the rear passenger seat of the car, and takes him into the store, video there shows.
They browse for about five minutes, Bowie makes his purchase, and they leave.
Ward testified he never saw Dante fall or have an accident in the video clips he reviewed.
Cherie Bennage, a part-time Rutter’s employee and a full-time Pennsylvania State Police clerk, testified she didn’t notice anything unusual about Dante at the counter that night.
“Nothing that stood out, no,” Bennage said.
She said if she had noticed bruises as severe as the ones documented on Dante at the hospital, she would have called police.
Under cross-examination, Bennage acknowledged she couldn’t remember saying “Hi” to Dante, though insisted she greets all children at the store when she sees them. She also didn’t recall anything unusual about the boy’s hair.
“Did you notice a bald spot on top of his head,” Holt asked.
“No, I did not,” she responded.
Meanwhile, video at the ER showed Leah Mullinix on the waiting area couch from about 8:30 to 10:08 p.m., waiting to be seen for a migraine. Clips viewed by the jury showed her on her phone at times, not using her phone at other times. Between 9 and 10 p.m., she bows her head or slumps a few times, and once lies down on the couch while waiting.
When asked by Holt, Ward said he didn’t believe he saw Leah Mullinix hold her head in pain or shield her eyes.
“I don’t believe so, no,” he said. “I think she slumped over at one point on the bench for a short period of time, but I didn’t count the seconds.”
At about 10:08 p.m, video shows Leah Mullinix leave the couch and walk to a bathroom with her phone, and she stays there for close to 10 minutes, according to time stamps on the videos.
She leaves the restroom around 10:20 p.m., crosses through the emergency department and walks outside.
Ward noted Leah Mullinix didn’t speak to a doctor or any medical personnel on her way out. She was apparently on a video call with Bowie at the time. Prosecutors said during opening statements Monday that Bowie called her right before she went to the bathroom.
Video from the parking area shows Leah Mullinix waiting outside for about four minutes. She shifts on her feet several times and holds her phone at her chest as she talks.
Bowie’s car drives to the emergency department doors around 10:24 p.m. He climbs out, pulls Dante out from the driver’s seat with him, clutches him to his chest and meets Leah Mullinix at the door.
Bowie doesn’t run, but seems to walk swiftly with Leah Mullinix next to him as they go into the hospital together, the video shows.
After Dante is rushed by a nurse for emergency care, further video shows Bowie and Leah Mullinix hugging in the entrance area. Bowie then jogs to his car and drives away.
Leah Mullinix stays at the hospital and sits with staff to provide information.
Further testimony continued Thursday, and the trial is expected to continue through next week. While a jury considers the charges against Bowie, the now 26-year-old Leah Mullinix is also charged in her son’s death.
She faces a felony count of child endangerment. Her next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18, according to court records.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at email@example.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.