McGowan's lawyers have suggested the drugs may have been planted by agents hired by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to discredit her for making sex assault accusations against him. She was charged with felony drug possession after authorities said cocaine was found in a wallet she left behind on a flight to Dulles International Airport in January 2017.
McGowan's lawyer said in court papers that the drugs could have been planted before the wallet was found by a cleaning crew. More than five hours passed between the time McGowan left the plane and the time the wallet was found.
At a hearing Monday in Loudoun County General District Court, McGowan's lawyers argued for dismissal of the charges, saying that even if what prosecutors have alleged thus far is true, it is insufficient to sustain a conviction. In addition to the question of whether the drugs could have been planted during the time the wallet was unaccounted for, they have also argued that jurisdiction for a crime occurring on an airplane is only appropriate in federal court.
Prosecutor Rebecca Thatcher, though, said prosecutors have evidence beyond what has been cited so far in the charging documents.
Judge Deborah Welsh denied the motion to dismiss as premature. She said the issues are better addressed at a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 21, at which live testimony can be presented.
After the hearing, Prince William Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert, who has been appointed to the case as a special prosecutor, declined comment on what additional evidence exists.
Prosecutors are not the only ones seeking additional evidence. Defense attorneys are trying to subpoena information from Instagram about the owner of an account who sent a message to McGowan after her wallet went missing, and before any charges against her had been made public, saying "You left your wallet on your Saturday flight with your 2 bags of coke."
Defense attorneys have suggested the message may have been part of a harassment campaign by Weinstein. The attorneys declined comment after Monday's hearing on whether they have received any information yet about the Instagram account.
McGowan did not attend Monday's hearing.