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News / Clark County News

Accused’s brothers, ex-girlfriend testify in Bogdanov murder trial

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: August 19, 2021, 6:59pm

The murder trial for David Bogdanov finished its first week Thursday afternoon. He is accused of strangling a Vancouver teenager after learning she was transgender.

The Clark County Superior Court jury heard testimony throughout the week from more than 20 witnesses, including the Vancouver man’s brothers, his former girlfriend, law enforcement officers, medical examiners and a Russian interpreter.

Bogdanov, 27, is facing charges of second-degree murder and malicious harassment, now legally called a hate-crime offense in Washington, in the June 2019 slaying of 17-year-old Nikki Kuhnhausen.

The prosecution told the jury during opening statements Tuesday that Bogdanov dumped Kuhnhausen’s body in a remote area on Larch Mountain and fled to Ukraine later that night.

Bogdanov’s defense attorneys say he was defending himself when the teenager died.

Prosecutors anticipate resting their case Monday. The trial is scheduled to go through the end of next week.

Martha Burt from the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office testified that Kuhnhausen died from strangulation. She told the jury Thursday that a phone charger was tangled up in Kuhnhausen’s remains, along with pieces of hair, a neck bone and a fragment of a necklace. The prosecution previously told the jury Kuhnhausen was strangled with a phone cord.

Two of Kuhnhausen’s friends testified Wednesday that the teen left the apartment they were staying at after dark to go to a nearby store. She returned with what appeared to be a man’s green jacket and a bottle of alcohol. They said that she told them she’d met someone while she was out.

A Vancouver police detective testified earlier in the week that phone records show Kuhnhausen logged into her Snapchat account on one of the friend’s phones. She messaged Bogdanov about plans to meet up again a few hours later, after 5 a.m. June 6, 2019.

On Wednesday, two of Bogdanov’s brothers took the stand, along with his former girlfriend.

Bogdanov was supposed to help his brother Stanislav Bogdanov with a tile job the day after they met Kuhnhausen, but David Bogdanov never showed up, his brother said.

Travel records showed David Bogdanov bought a one-way airplane ticket and flew to Ukraine the day Kuhnhausen disappeared. He stayed there for about a month before flying back to the United States.

Neither his brothers nor his former girlfriend knew of any plans for him to go to Ukraine, they testified. None of them heard from him for weeks, which his former girlfriend said was unusual.

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Stanislav Bogdanov’s testimony was apparently different from what he told both the prosecuting and defense attorneys in an interview a few months ago.

He said Wednesday the only time he saw Kuhnhausen was when he dropped off the teen and David Bogdanov. But in the interview, he’d told the attorneys Kuhnhausen came over to the apartment the brothers were staying at, and the two hung out while he went to sleep.

David Bogdanov’s other brother, Artur Bogdanov, testified he never met Kuhnhausen and that David Bogdanov never mentioned anything about her to him.

David Bogdanov’s former girlfriend testified that she knew him to make derogatory comments about people he suspected were gay, bisexual or transgender. She also knew him to carry a gun, she said.

A court-certified translator and a Vancouver police officer, who is a native Russian speaker, both testified that Bogdanov used a Russian anti-gay slur, when talking to family while in custody at the jail, in reference to Kuhnhausen and her supporters.