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PA woman enters child endangerment plea in toddler's death

Digital Brief: Jan. 22, 2023 (AM)
Digital Brief: Jan. 22, 2023 (AM) 02:47

YORK, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman has pleaded guilty to child endangerment, 2 1/2 weeks after jurors acquitted her ex-boyfriend of murder and other charges in the death of her 2-year-old son.

Leah Mullinix, 26, entered an open plea to the third-degree felony charge last week in York County Court in the September 2018 death of Dante Mullinix.

Last month, jurors deliberated for about two hours before acquitting 43-year-old Tyree Bowie of first- and third-degree murder as well as child endangerment in the child's death.

Bowie had been caring for Mullinix while the boy's mother was in the hospital. Authorities said he brought the unresponsive boy to the same hospital that day and then fled, telling authorities the following day that he had fed the boy some animal crackers and later noticed he wasn't breathing, Mullinix died eight days later.

An autopsy determined that the child died from traumatic brain injury, accompanied by strangulation and suffocation. His death was ruled a homicide. After his release from York County prison, Bowie visited the child's grave in Mount Rose Cemetery in Spring Garden Township with more than a dozen friends and supporters.

After the plea by Leah Mullinix, Judge Amber Kraft ordered a pre-sentence investigation along with mental health and drug and alcohol evaluations. Mullinix's attorney, Joshua Neiderhiser, said his client is currently in substance abuse counseling. The judge scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 20.

Mullinix's sister, Sarah Mullinix, who had been trying to get custody of her nephew at the time of his death, said, "At least she's owning up to it, well, part of it." She has accused police of failing to properly investigate the case and county social service agency officials of not having heeded concerns about the child's welfare.

Bowie, who was also in court during the hearing, said he was never offered a plea during the time he spent in the county prison awaiting trial. "It's not fair that I lost four years of my life for something I didn't do, and she gets to take a plea. It's not right," Bowie said.

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