An Atchison, Kan., man was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison for kidnapping and killing a 5-year-old girl two years ago following a domestic dispute with the girl’s mother.
Marcas McGowan, 32, declined the opportunity to speak during the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. He had already pleaded guilty to kidnapping resulting in death and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson sentenced McGowan to life in prison for the kidnapping and an additional 10 years for the firearm charge, to run consecutively.
McGowan has admitted that he kidnapped Cadence Harris on July 18, 2014, following an argument with the girl’s mother at a home they shared in Atchison. He was not the girl’s father but had been in a longtime off-and-on relationship with her mother.
After leading law enforcement officers on a vehicle pursuit ending in Leavenworth County, McGowan apparently shot Cadence and then confronted officers, who shot him.
In court Tuesday, a victim advocate read statements prepared by Cadence’s mother and grandmother. They described a little girl who loved to sing, dance and draw. Prosecutors displayed some of Cadence’s drawings: pictures of an anteater, a horse and a three-toed monster.
The mother said McGowan had subjected her to years of abuse, fear and torture before the killing.
“I’m a shell of a person,” the mother’s statement read in part. “I cannot put into words what has been taken from me. Not only did he kill my daughter, but he took my best friend.”
In passing sentence, Judge Robinson noted McGowan’s past criminal history: He had broken one person’s jaw, fired a shotgun at three others and threatened to kill Cadence’s mother, the judge said.
Robinson said Cadence’s death was a loss not only for the family, but also for her community.
“She sounds like she was a wonderful little girl,” Robinson said. “I wish none of you had had to go through this.”
McGowan’s attorney requested that McGowan be sent to the federal prison in Springfield so that he could receive treatment for high blood pressure and mental health problems. That decision will be made by prison officials.
After declining the opportunity to speak in court, McGowan stood and stared in silence at family members before being led out of the courtroom.