Dante Mullinix's mother ends testimony as trial enters third week
Tyree Bowie was “flipping out” during a video call to Leah Mullinix the night he brought her 2-year-old son Dante unconscious to York Hospital in 2018, according to Mullinix's recollection of the night.
The two were on the call for about 20 minutes, during which Bowie drove up to the hospital’s emergency department entrance. He then met Mullinix outside the hospital as he carried Dante, limp, inside.
The video call was dark, though, she said, and she couldn’t really see Bowie or Dante.
“Could you see your son Dante?” First Assistant District Attorney Tim Barker asked.
“At that point, no,” Mullinix said.
She said she remembered Bowie telling her the boy wasn’t breathing, but she couldn’t clearly see details in the car during the call.
Mullinix wrapped up her marathon testimony Wednesday, running about three days, in the trial where Bowie is accused of killing Dante. She was initially called as a prosecution witness last Friday. She then underwent a long, intense cross-examination by Bowie’s attorney from Friday evening into Wednesday morning, with redirects from the prosecution to answer follow-up questions.
Bowie, 43, is charged with murder and child endangerment, accused of severely beating the 2-year-old the night of Sept. 6, 2018. He babysat Dante alone after Mullinix went to York Hospital to seek treatment for a migraine.
Bowie's attorney, Farley Holt, argued that Dante choked on a cookie in Bowie's car, and that Bowie tried to give him CPR somewhere during his drive back to the hospital that night.
Prosecutors allege serious bruises and marks seen on Dante’s head and body at the hospital, including apparent fingerprints around his neck, were new. The injuries weren’t seen by anyone before Dante arrived at the emergency department unconscious and not breathing.
Dante died nine days later after he was transported to Hershey Medical Center. An autopsy concluded traumatic brain injury was the cause of death, along with strangulation and suffocation.
A defense expert disputed the finding and backed up Bowie’s assertion by concluding that accidental choking was the cause of death.
At about 9 p.m. that night, while Mullinix was at the hospital, she said she saw Dante during a video call with Bowie. He seemed “pretty much the same,” she testified.
She believed Bowie had called her from a bedroom of an apartment along Lexton Dive where he was staying. But the image was dark.
“It kind of looked like they were laying down and it was dark,” she said.
But Mullinix could see Bowie and Dante next to each other. She thought she remembered seeing Bowie, at least, lying down, then indicated she didn’t think she’d seen a bed but had assumed they were in a bedroom.
Information given earlier in the trial suggested Bowie may have misplaced his key to the apartment, and that he and Dante had either hung out outside or in his car.
Mullinix, though, said Dante appeared normal except for a mark on his chin. In messages between her and Bowie that night, Bowie said Dante had fallen out of his car earlier in the evening.
About an hour later, shortly after 10 p.m., Bowie and Mullinix spoke on the other video call where she said he was “flipping out.”
She said she remembered Bowie telling her that Dante wasn’t breathing. She also said she couldn’t clearly see Bowie in that call, nor did she recall seeing him performing CPR.
In texts between the two later that night that were presented at trial, Bowie spoke multiple times after leaving the hospital about Dante choking on a cookie he gave him. He described the same situation during an interview with investigators the next day.
Mullinix denied she caused the injuries that prosecutors said were new on Dante’s body that night. She also denied hitting him as an act of discipline during the days prior, saying that yelling was her usual method.
Mullinix, 26, is also charged with a felony count of child endangerment in the case. Her next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 18, according to court information. Her case, initially filed in January 2019, has been on hold while work to bring Bowie’s case to trial was underway.
She said Friday that the York County District Attorney’s Office hasn’t offered her any specific deals to testify, but that she hopes for leniency in her case.
But under questioning by Bowie’s attorney on Wednesday, Mullinix indicated that police and prosecutors helped get her into a supervised bail program.
“That cop is the reason why I’m out of jail right now,” Mullinix said while reading from a copy of one of her Facebook Messenger posts that Holt showed her.
When Holt asked which cop, Mullinix said, “I guess I was referring to Hower.”
She referred to York City Police Sgt. Kyle Hower, the lead detective in the case.
Mullinix explained that she was jailed after she was charged and didn’t have money for bail. The bail was later modified to supervised bail, and she was released, she said.
She then indicated an assistant district attorney might have helped with the bail change.
“I think it was an agreement they had,” she said.
The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday.
— Reach Aimee Ambrose at email@example.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.