New charges expected against man accused of killing 5-year-old Leavenworth girl

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McGowanLEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- New charges are expected from the U.S. Attorney against an Atchison man accused of killing a 5-year-old girl during a shootout with Leavenworth police in July.

The state case against Marcus McGowan, 30, may be dismissed in the next month.

Instead, the U.S. Attorney is expected to indict McGowan for the murder of his girlfriend's daughter, Cadence "Cady" Harris.

"The U.S. Attorney's office is looking at taking this case," said Todd Thompson, Leavenworth County Attorney. "They are in the process of doing that. They are looking to appoint me as one of the special prosecutors for the case. Therefore, this case would be dismissed at the state level to be prosecuted by the federal level."

Cadence Harris, from Atchison, was killed Friday night after an alleged kidnapping. Courtesy: facebook

Cadence Harris, from Atchison, was killed Friday night after an alleged kidnapping.
Courtesy: facebook

McGowan appeared in Leavenworth County court Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing, in part because his lawyer says the six felony charges against him are going to be dismissed.

"If in fact the state is going to dismiss the charges, there is strategically no good reason for us to put on evidence today," said Debra Snider, McGowan's lawyer. "It's my understanding from Mr. Thompson, the county attorney, that he will in fact be dismissing these charges and apparently the federal government will be picking up charges on my client Mr. McGowan."

McGowan allegedly took his girlfriend's daughter, Cady Harris, in July and led police on a high-speed pursuit from Atchison to Leavenworth. Police say at the end of the chase, McGowan got out of his vehicle and pointed a handgun at officers, who fired and wounded him. The county attorney has not revealed how Harris was shot and killed, but did charge McGowan with first-degree felony murder in her death.

Now the state case is expected be dropped in favor of federal prosecution, which may carry stiffer punishment.

Thompson says he believes a federal prosecution of McGowan would be best for Leavenworth County. Snider says usually the feds get involved after the state is finished with it's prosecution.

McGowan has not been charged with kidnapping the girl. Some have said the death of a child during a kidnapping should warrant the death penalty. But under Kansas law, to bring a capital murder case, the kidnapping must include sexual assault or a ransom demand. And those elements may not be present in this case.