Jury readies for final steps in the trial of Tyree Bowie

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Attorneys will go head-to-head for a final time Thursday in the trial of Tyree Bowie, a York City man accused of killing a 2-year-old boy while babysitting him four years ago.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday morning, capping 14 days of testimony spread across four weeks. The judge sent the jury home shortly after noon Wednesday as negotiations between the prosecution and defense went on behind the scenes.

York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Gregory Snyder indicated he anticipated the attorneys would need at least a couple more hours in the afternoon to meet and settle final “housekeeping matters” ahead of jury deliberations.

Dante Mullinix

Bowie, 43, is charged with first- and third-degree murder and with child endangerment as prosecutors accuse him of beating 2-year-old Dante Mullinix, causing severe injuries that led to the child’s death in September 2018.

One of the final matters is a decision of whether to add a count of involuntary homicide as a lesser-included offense — an option below murder the jury could potentially consider.

Defense attorney Farley Holt said Bowie wanted time to think about whether to allow the lesser-included charge. Snyder noted the decision rests with Bowie.

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In all, jurors heard from about 30 witnesses and saw a few hundred exhibits.

The prosecution and defense clashed on their interpretations of what led to Dante’s death.

Where prosecutors alleged Bowie brutalized the child, Bowie insisted he tried to resuscitate Dante when he choked on a cookie while succumbing to the effects of abuse and neglect inflicted by others.

Tyree Bowie in an photo submitted by family.

Questions probed deep into the final month of Dante’s life.

Both sides constructed a meticulous timeline centered around when Bowie met the boy and his mother, Leah Mullinix, in August 2018 and up through the day Dante died and Bowie’s subsequent arrest. The night of Sept. 6 was the focal point, the eye of the storm, where Dante was either beaten or he choked before Bowie brought him to WellSpan York Hospital limp and lifeless.

Attorneys dug into medical findings, conclusions and opinions. They combed through pages of instant messages between Bowie and Mullinix. And they scrutinized Bowie and Mullinix’s whereabouts, movements and paths over those weeks.

Both adults underwent days of testimony, with Mullinix as a prosecution witness and Bowie speaking in his defense.

Based on the timeline, Mullinix brought her son to York County that summer and largely lived out of her car with him. She allegedly associated with Latin Kings gang members before she met Bowie through Facebook that August.

Dante developed a genital infection, apparently before Mullinix met Bowie, and the condition worsened over the next several days. Doctors would later realize the child had herpes, though neither Mullinix nor Bowie had the sexually transmitted disease.

Bowie alleged he saw bruises on Dante, and that Mullinix told him they were likely caused by one of the Latin Kings members, a man identified at trial as Hector Rivera. Bowie also alleged he saw Mullinix use makeup to cover bruises on the boy.

Their relationship developed, though Bowie described it as more like a friendship where sex entered the equation. He denied they were boyfriend/girlfriend. He did profess a paternal affection for Dante and a desire to help the two how he could while they were homeless.

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By the end of August, Bowie helped Mullinix and Dante get into a domestic abuse shelter downtown. That led to Mullinix finally taking Dante to a doctor about his infection that week.

The three spent hours together on Sept. 6 after Mullinix took Dante for a follow-up medical appointment, and they eventually ended up watching a movie at the place where Bowie was staying at the time.

Bowie testified Dante seemed off that day, and he believed Mullinix when she said the infection was affecting him.

Leah Mullinix

That evening, Mullinix said she had a migraine and wanted to go to York Hospital.

Bowie drove to the facility and dropped her off. Bowie had Dante alone for a couple hours as they their way back to his place. He stopped at a Rutter’s gas station along the way.

There, Bowie testified Dante slumped to the floor of the back seat. Prosecutors, on the other hand, pointed to security video to show the boy was mobile and didn’t appear to have significant, new bruises.

Bowie took Dante back to his place, but said he lost his key and locked himself out. So he and Dante hung out in his car for a while.

He texted and had video chats with Mullinix, explaining that Dante had fallen while getting out of the car and scraped his chin. Mullinix testified that Dante seemed fine on the video.

Bowie said since he was locked out, and the night was humid, he decided to run Dante back to the hospital. He also gave him a Teddy Graham cookie, he said.

On the way, he said he saw Dante pass out in the back seat near the 3rd Base establishment along George Street. He pulled over as he pulled Dante onto his lap in the driver’s seat, according to his account.

In a frantic series of events, Bowie described how he thrust his fingers into the boy’s mouth to fish the cookie out. He also did a crude CPR, with his breath pushing cookie goop out Dante’s nose.

He said he also attempted chest compressions to get Dante breathing again while the boy was on his lap in the driver’s seat and while Bowie drove down George Street to the hospital. And while he was on a video call with Mullinix and “flipping out,” as he said.

Security video at the hospital showed Bowie pulling Dante out of the driver’s seat with him and carrying him into the emergency department.

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

Medical staff rushed the boy into treatment and got him breathing again.

Bowie left while frazzled by the events, he said.

While at the hospital, staff documented a series of bruises on Dante’s body that weren’t seen during one of his previous visits that week. Prosecutors described deep, fresh bruises on his throat and lower jaw, on his knee and a bite mark on his arm.

He was eventually transferred to Hershey Medical Center that night. He died nine days later while on a ventilator.

An autopsy concluded Dante died from traumatic brain injury along with strangulation and suffocation.

Prosecutors allege that in the approximately hour and 40 minutes Bowie was alone with Dante — or less, according to Mullinix’s testimony of the one video call — he had to have significantly beaten the child, including punching, kicking and slamming him to the ground, to cause the injuries that were documented.

A pair of medical experts testified the injuries to Dante would’ve had immediate effects, that since he was seen conscious and moving at Rutter’s, they likely occurred afterward.

A medical expert for the defense refuted the findings, ruling out strangulation and suffocation. He said Dante died from accidental choking that cut off oxygen to his brain, leading to swelling.

Bowie on Wednesday admitted under cross-examination that information he gave to police didn’t always match between his first interview at the department that Sept. 7 and the second that Sept. 19. And some of his statements didn’t match trial testimony.

Mismatched details included where along the route to the hospital he noticed Dante was unconscious, where exactly he pulled the boy onto the driver’s seat with him, how many times he stopped on the way to the hospital, where he went after the hospital and bits left out from one interview to the other.

Bowie admitted he sort of tuned out during the first Sept. 7 interview and was answering questions without always providing complete information.

“I was just answering questions and talking,” Bowie said. “I can admit that.”

While not all of his statements were accurate, under Holt’s rebuttal questions, he insisted he was always consistent about what happened with Dante.

“But I never changed my story as far as Dante,” Bowie said.

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Bowie sometimes blamed the behavior of Sgt. Kyle Hower, York City Police’s lead detective on the case, for why he held back with his responses during the first interview. He accused Hower of berating him and frequently calling him a liar.

He also said he didn’t believe he was asked the same questions during both interviews.

Bowie and Mullinix both denied beating and abusing Dante.

Mullinix is charged with a felony count of child endangerment in the case. She has a court appearance scheduled for January.

Rivera has not been charged in the case.

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