'I was trying to figure out what happened,' suspect in Dante Mullinix's death told police

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Tyree Bowie recounted the moments before his frantic race to the hospital — and ultimately the death of 2-year-old Dante Mullinix — in a taped police interview shown to jurors on Tuesday.

In the video, Bowie reiterated his contention that the boy in his care choked accidentally. Police insisted that something else caused the death.

Bowie, 43, is charged with murder and child endangerment in connection with Dante's death in September 2018.

During the interview recorded Sept. 7, 2018 — the day after Dante was taken to the hospital — Bowie told police that he was driving with Dante in the back seat when he heard a noise. Bowie said he asked if the boy was OK. 

Dante Mullinix

When Dante didn't respond, Bowie turned and saw the boy slumped over with “cookies coming out of his nose.” Bowie told police the boy was eating animal cookies as they drove. 

A medical expert testifying for the defense said that the boy died from choking. Dr. David Fowler, a consultant and Maryland's retired state medical examiner, gave that opinion Monday during the trial.

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The defendant said in the interview he tried to clear Dante's throat before attempting the Heimlich maneuver, a series of abdominal thrusts intended to dislodge obstructions in a person's windpipe.

Dante still didn’t respond, Bowie told police.

Tyree Bowie in an photo submitted by family.

Bowie said that one minute the boy was bobbing his head to the music in the car and eating cookies; the next, Dante was unresponsive and Bowie was putting his fingers down the boy's throat. 

“I was trying to figure out what happened,” Bowie told police. 

The toddler wasn’t breathing when they arrived at the hospital.

Bowie also said during the interview that the boy’s mother, Leah Mullinix, told him that Dante had a habit of banging his head against things.

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Investigators, however, told Bowie that the injuries the boy sustained were fresh — not from previous trauma. Bowie was then shown police photos of Dante taken at Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, where the toddler was transported via helicopter. 

Bowie was asked if he thought that trying to revive Dante may have injured him. To that, Bowie said he didn’t think that what he did to try to save the boy would have caused severe injuries. 

Leah Mullinix

Police asked Bowie if maybe that for a moment he got angry with Dante because of something the child had done. Bowie told police that the boy never did anything bad when he was around him. 

“I will tell you until the day I die, the kid is good,” Bowie told police. “He’s just seen too much.” 

The trial is expected to resume Wednesday.

Leah Mullinix, 26, 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.