Murder charge sought in child's death in Leavenworth - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

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Murder, kidnapping charges sought in child's death in Leavenworth

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Marcus McGowan Marcus McGowan
Cadence Harris Cadence Harris
LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

Authorities are seeking first-degree murder and kidnapping charges against a man in connection with the fatal shooting of a 5-year-old girl in Leavenworth Friday night.

Leavenworth County District Attorney Todd Thompson is expected to file multiple charges against Marcus McGowan. Authorities announced Monday evening that they are seeking charges of first-degree felony murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated child endangerment, aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer, felony fleeing and criminal possession of a firearm.

Authorities at 5 p.m. Monday arrested McGowan, 30, who is in a Kansas City area hospital recovering from injuries sustained when he was involved in a shootout Friday night with police.

Thompson could file the charges as soon as Tuesday.

Cadence Harris 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 but have not directly accused McGowan of killing Cadence.

McGowan, who was wanted on a contempt of court violation, could be released from the hospital on Tuesday.

Cadence's mother, Christina Harris, was at Monday night's news conference. She said she wanted to hear the details herself.

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.

"He loved her. He never hurt her. He got off on hurting me, but I don't know what he was thinking," she said.

Harris is asking anyone who may have seen any part of the crime spree to call 1-800-KS-CRIME. She said she believes motorists may have filmed the chase on their smartphones.

McGowan has spent time in prison, court records show, and had an active warrant for his arrest after missing an Atchison County court hearing Thursday in a domestic violence case involving Harris.

In 2009, Harris gave birth to Cadence and also was involved with McGowan. He choked her and even fired two rounds from a shotgun into a vehicle as she was driving away in it, according to court records. There were children inside the vehicle at the time, and Harris threw her body across them to protect them from the gunshots, according to court documents. Harris testified that he threatened to put her "in a body bag," and she feared that he would shoot her. The driver crashed into a tree while trying to get away from McGowan.

He was found guilty of making a criminal threat, placed on probation and ordered to pay court costs. 

He would wind up violating probation and go to prison for six months in 2012. He was released in July 2012.

But he still hadn't paid nearly $10,000 in court fees and damages to the truck that Harris was in.

He was ordered to court on Thursday in an attempt by the county to collect, but he skipped the appearance, authorities said.

"We filed a contempt of court citation in an attempt to collect those. He failed to appear in court on that contempt citation," said Atchsion County attorney Gerald Kuckleman. "Just because they served their time doesn't mean they're free of financial obligations."

McGowan has been in trouble with the law multiple times for violent actions and drug abuse, the prosecutor said. 

"He's had a history here and it's been fairly regular and ongoing," Kuckleman said. "He's not stranger to law enforcement in the Atchison community."

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

Click here to donate.

This is the second child that Harris has buried. She lost an infant son in 2006 to what was ruled at the time as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

The baby's death was re-examined in 2008 when a four-month-old infant by Harris nearly died.

According to a Leavenworth Times article from 2008, the baby suffered life-threatening injuries that included a broken leg, broken rib, skull fracture and brain hemorrhaging. Bryan Quinley was accused of abuse, but he was acquitted of the allegation, officials have told KCTV5.

The baby survived the 2008 abuse and was placed in foster care. The child remains in foster care.

Harris told police that she was asleep when her baby was abused in 2008. She said she took the baby to the hospital when she noticed something was wrong, according to the Leavenworth newspaper.

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