Man accused of killing 5-year-old girl could face federal charge - KCTV5

Man accused of killing 5-year-old girl could face federal charges

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McGowan in court on Thursday McGowan in court on Thursday

Prosecutors said Thursday that they may transfer the case of a man accused of killing a 5-year-old girl during a shootout with police from state to federal court.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson discussed the possible change of venue as Marcas McGowan's defense team waived their right to a preliminary hearing.

McGowan quietly looked around as he entered the courtroom Thursday morning.

McGowan was charged with first-degree felony murder in July in connection with the death of Cadence Harris. He also faces two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, aggravated child endangerment, felon in possession of a firearm and fleeing.

If the case is transferred to federal court, Thompson said he believes the federal government would still want him involved.

“They are reviewing the indictment within the next 30 days with a grand jury and they are looking to have me appointed special prosecutor," Thompson said.

Under Kansas law, Thompson would have few options for seeking the death penalty. Federal prosecutors would have more options, but there has been no public talk about seeking the death penalty in this case.

McGowan is accused of taking his estranged girlfriend's daughter from the Atchison home of a McGowan family member and becoming involved in a high-speed chase in Platte County in Missouri.

The July 18 chase crossed the state line into Leavenworth County, which could give the U.S. Attorney's Office jurisdiction. McGowan allegedly turned his weapon on police after he crashed in a construction zone in Leavenworth and they fired multiple shots at him. Cadence died from a gunshot wound.

The question from that night and one that is still unanswered is whether the bullet that killed Cadence came from McGowan's gun or an officer's service weapon. Thompson said the officers in August were cleared of any wrong doing after an independent investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Debra Snider, defense attorney for McGowan, said she doesn't understand why the U.S. Attorney's Office would seek a change of venue.

"I'm not sure why feds would take this. I don't understand why do federal prosecution in lieu of state prosecution,” she said.

While Thompson said he cannot discuss the specifics, he believes the transfer is the best avenue to get justice for Cadence and her loved ones.

"My responsibility is to do what's best for Leavenworth County and what I feel is best for Leavenworth County," Thompson said.

A final decision on the transfer is expected before the end of the year.

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