Federal kidnapping case replaces murder prosecution in death of 5-year-old Atchison girl

Marcus McGowan
Marcus McGowan

An Atchison, Kan., man previously charged with killing a 5-year-old girl last summer is now facing a federal kidnapping charge and a possible life prison sentence.

Leavenworth County prosecutors said they will dismiss the murder case against Marcas McGowan to pursue the kidnapping indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury.

McGowan, 30, allegedly took Cadence Harris from their home in Atchison last July 18 after a domestic disturbance with his girlfriend, the girl’s mother.

He led police on a chase that crossed the state line into Missouri and ended in Leavenworth when he crashed into a road construction area and was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with police.

Cadence was found dead inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound to the head, and according to court documents released last week, the bullet appeared to have been fired by McGowan.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson has been designated as a special assistant U.S. attorney to help prosecute the federal case.

“My office always strives for what is in the best interest of the Leavenworth community, and will continue to do so through our collaboration with the U.S. attorney’s office,” Thompson said in a written statement Thursday.

Thompson said a felony murder conviction in state court would carry a life sentence with parole eligibility after 25 years, while a kidnapping conviction in federal court could carry a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Besides the kidnapping charge, McGowan is now charged in federal court with discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, which carries a potential life sentence. He also is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and possessing a firearm after being convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

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