He Spent 4 Years Behind Bars Waiting for This Moment

Tyree Bowie was acquitted after being accused of killing a child in Pennsylvania
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2023 6:30 AM CST
He Spent 4 Years Behind Bars Waiting for This Moment
This screenshot from a news report shows Tyree Bowie shortly after his acquittal for the murder of 2-year-old Dante Mullinix.   (Fox 43 via YouTube screengrab)

Tyree Bowie spent over four years behind bars awaiting trial for a crime he says he didn't commit. Now, a jury in York County, Pennsylvania, has agreed with him, per PennLive, acquitting Bowie of all charges in the death of Dante Mullinix. The boy died in September 2018, a week before his third birthday. Speaking to a reporter after his release, Bowie, now 43, recalled rough treatment he endured in prison. "You're incarcerated for the death of a child—that's not a place you want to be," he said. "But I knew I had to keep fighting. I couldn't give up."

Bowie only knew Dante and his mother—Leah Mullinix, now 26—for about three weeks prior to the tragedy. He helped get them into a domestic violence shelter and gave them rides to the hospital, which is where the mother was when her son died. Earlier that day, she'd complained of a migraine and asked Bowie for a lift, leaving Dante in the man's care. About 90 minutes later, Bowie was back at the hospital, and Dante was unconscious. Bowie claimed the boy choked on an animal cracker. The medical examiner later cited traumatic brain injury and suffocation in ruling the death a homicide. There's no doubt Dante suffered abuse, but according to jurors interviewed by the York Dispatch, there's no evidence Bowie was the abuser.

"I sat for four weeks waiting for the prosecution to drop a bombshell, and it just never came," one juror said. Others criticized police for focusing on Bowie and failing to conduct a full investigation. Indeed, evidence showed Dante was abused before he ever met Bowie: The boy had an untreated broken wrist and untreated herpes, possibly the result of sexual abuse by his mother's ex-boyfriend. Speaking with FOX43, an emotional Bowie described the pain of being separated from his own family for so long. He's weighing several job offers and considering a civil suit against the York City PD. Also, per the Dispatch, Leah Mullinix is now charged with felony child endangerment and has a court hearing on Jan. 18. (Read more acquittal stories.)

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