LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- A 30-year-old Atchison man appeared in court Wednesday morning charged with six felonies in the death of a five-year-old girl.
Marcus McGowan is accused of killing his girlfriend's daughter, Cadence "Cady" Harris. In addition to first-degree felony murder, he also faces two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated child endangerment, being a criminal in possession of a firearm and fleeing and eluding police.
All of this is the result of a domestic disturbance incident last week, where McGowan allegedly took his girlfriend's daughter, Cady Harris, 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.
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson will not say how Cady died, but felony murder in Kansas means McGowan is accused of causing the girl's death while carrying out a dangerous crime. In this case, the Thompson will present a jury with two options: That the girl died while McGowan put her in danger or while he was fleeing and eluding law enforcement.
"It is still an ongoing investigation," explained Thompson. "So we have charged with what the evidence is that we have received as of this moment."
Some are concerned that 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.
McGowan also has not been charged with kidnapping the girl. Thompson says that could change as the investigation continues and more evidence is gathered.