A 27-year-old Washington state man has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison after being found guilty of killing transgender teenager Nikki Kuhnhausen in 2019.
Last month, a jury found David Bogdanov of Vancouver, guilty of second-degree murder and malicious harassment – A hate crime charge – for strangling the death of 17-year-old Kuhnhausen, and then burying his remains in a wooded area near Larch Mountain, in a remote area of northeastern Clark County, south of Washington.
Kuhnhausen disappeared on June 6, 2019 while crashing into a friend’s house. Six months later, on December 7, 2019, his remains were found by a person collecting bear grass who reported finding a human skull. Police later found the rest of Kuhnhausen’s remains, along with his clothes, jewelry and hair extensions.
Social media and phone records led police to arrest Bogdanov, who had been texting the teen on Snapchat the night he disappeared, just days after the body was discovered. Prosecutors also claimed that Bogdanov’s cell phone records show his phone near the area where Kuhnhausen’s remains were found.
At trial, prosecutors claimed Bogdanov strangled Kuhnhausen after learning he was transgender during a sexual encounter in his van and that he lied to police several times after she was implicated in his death. After removing his remains, Bogdanov booked a one-way flight to Ukraine and called a friend to “get rid” of his car, according to the trial witness. He returned to the United States six weeks later.
But Bogdanov’s lawyers claimed he was acting in self-defense, claiming Kuhnhausen had looked for a weapon in his front seat when he told him to leave his van. At trial, he claimed he had wrapped a load cord around Kuhnhausen’s shoulders to pull it back, but the cord accidentally slid down her neck, strangling her to death.
Bogdanov’s lawyers also argued at trial that he covered up the death and lied to police (he initially told them he and Kuhnhausen had parted peacefully in downtown Vancouver) because he was afraid of being humiliated and ostracized by his family if they knew he had been intimate with a transgender woman, according to The Colombian. They have since appealed the jury’s verdict.
Moderators and members of the Facebook group “Justice for Nikki” he held the judge’s decision to allow the charges to be executed consecutively and not simultaneously.
“The judge ruled that, instead of letting the charges run, they would be cumulative, which would allow the sentence to be as long as possible. The judge said frankly that he was controlling the amount of time he was allowed to spend. and that he could only operate within what was permitted by law. And he did, to the extent possible. That means the killer was sentenced to 20.5 years in prison, “Devon Davis Williamson wrote.
“The judge spoke for about ten minutes during the sentencing, detailing the blatant nature of the crime and choosing to focus on Nikki’s life and the light and love that have emerged around her case. He referred to her properly and with dignity, and named her a son of our community, who was no different from any other child. And, in fact, she was, “Williamson continued. A milestone for Nikki’s legacy and a milestone for trans people at risk of violence My lasting hope is that this case will become the precedent and the norm for how the country’s judicial systems manage crimes against trans people and children. “
Members of the group, along with Kuhnhausen’s family and friends, later participated in a “submission” vigil, during which attendees created plaster art drawings or messages in honor of Kuhnhausen on Friday night. .
Following the sentencing hearing, Lisa Woods, Kuhnhausen’s mother, said she supported Bogdanov in receiving the longest possible sentence.
“You know she was just a baby, she was just a teenager,” Woods said of her daughter, “and it took her life and you know, she got the most out of it and that’s what she deserves.”