The case of an Atchison man who's facing a murder charge in Leavenworth may be headed to federal court.

The case of an Atchison man who's facing a murder charge in Leavenworth may be headed to federal court.

Marcas T. McGowan, 30, currently is charged in Leavenworth County District Court with first-degree felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, aggravated endangering a child and fleeing or attempting to elude police by engaging in reckless driving.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred July 18 in north Leavenworth.

McGowan allegedly exchanged gunfire with Leavenworth police officers and was wounded. The incident resulted in the death of 5-year-old Cadence Harris.

County Attorney Todd Thompson said today that federal prosecutors may be taking over the case. He said there may be a federal indictment against McGowan. If this happens, the state charges pending in Leavenworth County District Court will be dismissed.

"I believe this should be done within the next 30 days," Thompson said.

Thompson said he may be appointed a special U.S. prosecutor to assist with the federal case.

The announcement came in Leavenworth County District Court during what had been scheduled as a preliminary hearing for McGowan.

McGowan waived his right to the preliminary hearing. The case immediately proceeded to the arraignment phase, and McGowan pleaded not guilty to the six pending charges.

During a preliminary hearing, evidence is presented and a judge determines whether a defendant should be bound over on charges for a possible trial.

Following court this morning, McGowan's court-appointed attorney, Debra Snider, said strategically there was no reason for the defense to move forward with a preliminary hearing if the current charges are going to be dismissed.

Snider said she is eligible to be appointed as a defense attorney in federal cases. She said it's conceivable she could be appointed to represent McGowan in a federal case, but there is a federal public defender office.

"That's a decision that would be made at the federal level," she said.

Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens said local police officers became involved in the July 18 incident after receiving a report of a car chase in Platte County, Missouri, involving a person who had a child in his car. Kitchens said the incident had started in Atchison before crossing into Missouri. The car eventually crossed Centennial Bridge into Leavenworth.

Following McGowan's not guilty plea today, District Judge Gunnar Sundby scheduled a pretrial conference for Jan. 8. He scheduled a hearing for pretrial motions for Feb. 10. A jury trial was scheduled for March 16.

It was then that Thompson announced the case may be prosecuted at the federal level, and the state charges may be dismissed.

Thompson said if the Leavenworth County District Court proceeds to trial, at least five days should be set aside for the trial.

McGowan remains in custody in the Leavenworth County Jail. His bond has been set at $1 million.