Man charged with murdering Leavenworth girl - KCTV5 News

Man charged with murdering Leavenworth girl

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Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson has charged Marcus McGowan with first-degree felony murder in the death of a 5-year-old Leavenworth girl. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson has charged Marcus McGowan with first-degree felony murder in the death of a 5-year-old Leavenworth girl.
Cadence Harris died Friday after McGowen allegedly abducted her from an Atchison home and became involved in a high-speed chase with authorities. Cadence Harris died Friday after McGowen allegedly abducted her from an Atchison home and became involved in a high-speed chase with authorities.
LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

A 30-year-old man faces a slew of charges including first-degree felony murder in the death of a 5-year-old Leavenworth girl.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson has charged Marcus McGowan with aggravated child endangerment, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charges were filed Tuesday afternoon and Thompson announced them during a news conference Wednesday morning.

The Atchison man faced a judge for the first time Wednesday morning during a hearing in which the six charges were read to him. The judge set his bond at $1 million.

McGowan's next court appearance is set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 8.

During the news conference, Thompson said Cadence Harris was killed while McGowan was committing multiple felonies. He repeatedly declined to say whether he would seek the death penalty against McGowan.

However, he said "at any moment that charges can be amended" as new evidence is uncovered in the course of the investigation.

But Thompson would have few options for seeking the death penalty under Kansas law. To seek the death penalty, Thompson would have to show that McGowan kidnapped Cadence with the intent to ransom her or molest her.

However, Thompson did not charge McGowan with kidnapping Cadence. He declined to say why.

Authorities at 5 p.m. Monday arrested McGowan, who was in a Kansas City area hospital recovering from injuries sustained when he was involved in a shootout Friday night with police.

Cadence died Friday after McGowen allegedly abducted her from an Atchison home and became involved in a high-speed chase with authorities. McGowan allegedly turned his weapon on police after he crashed in a construction zone in Leavenworth and they fired multiple shots at him.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said gunfire from officers did not hit Cadence or the suspect's vehicle.

Recordings involving the Platte County Sheriff's Office, which had deputies chasing McGowan Friday night, show that deputies were told that Cadence had been shot. Deputies also radioed that McGowan was firing at them.

But Thompson did not reveal Wednesday an official cause of death including whose bullet struck Cadence.

Thompson did not directly accuse McGowan of firing the shot, only saying Cadence died while McGowan was committing felonies, which is the basis of the first-degree murder charge.

"If they could prove that he killed the child or killed the child intentionally, the charges would be different," said former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison, who also served as Johnson County's prosecutor.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said Thursday that his officers made the correct call in chasing McGowan because he was armed and had Cadence with him.

"We're very conservative about policies relative to chasing. Initially my assessment is they acted appropriately," Kitchens said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the officers' actions.

Cadence's mother, Christina Harris, said she and McGowan got into a fight on Friday.

Harris said he pulled a gun on her, so she had to run to a neighbor's house to call police. By the time she went back to the home, McGowan had taken her daughter.

McGowan was not the child's biological father, but he had an on-again off-again relationship with Harris and was like a father to Cadence, family members say.

While Harris said she expected McGowan to harm her, she said she never expected McGowan would harm her daughter because she said he loved Cadence so much.

A visitation for Cadence will be held at 9 a.m. at Faith Evangelistic Church in Leavenworth. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. The church is donating its services.

Cadence was cremated.

To help with Cadence's funeral expenses, her family asked that donations be made at High Noon Saloon & Brewery, 206 Choctaw St., in Leavenworth.

Click here to donate.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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