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News / Clark County News

Closing arguments presented in killing of Vancouver teen Nikki Kuhnhausen

Prosecutors dispute claim Bogdanov acted in self-defense

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: August 25, 2021, 6:42pm

Jurors will return Thursday to continue deliberating in the murder and hate-crime trial of David Bogdanov, who’s accused of strangling 17-year-old Nikki Kuhnhausen in 2019.

Bogdanov is charged with second-degree murder and malicious harassment in Clark County Superior Court. His trial started last week.

The prosecution and defense began their closing arguments Wednesday morning, and the case went to the jury around 3 p.m. However, an alternate juror was brought in shortly after 4 p.m., after another juror was excused due to illness.

Over the course of the trial, the jury heard testimony, including from Bogdanov, about him meeting Kuhnhausen in June 2019, having sexual contact with her in the backseat of his car and finding out she was transgender.

Bogdanov testified Tuesday that when he pushed Kuhnhausen away and yelled at her to get out of his car, she lunged for a loaded gun he had near the driver’s seat. He said he strangled the teenager in self-defense and then dumped her body down the hillside of Larch Mountain.

Prosecutors argue Bogdanov killed Kuhnhausen because she was transgender.

During closing arguments, Deputy Prosecutor Kristen Arnaud pointed out inconsistencies in Bogdanov’s testimony. She also noted that he lied multiple times to police and never told them he had to defend himself from Kuhnhausen.

Defense attorney Matthew Hoff said Bogdanov didn’t tell the truth because he didn’t want to tell police or his family about having sexual contact with someone who was born male. Bogdanov testified he would’ve been shunned if his family found out.

Arnaud told the jury Bogdanov used more force than was necessary or that a reasonable person would use when he strangled Kuhnhausen with a phone cord.

She argued Bogdanov’s testimony showed the thought going through his head as Kuhnhausen fought back was that he had been deceived — not that he was fearful.

Hoff said Bogdanov shoved Kuhnhausen away and cursed at her because he did not consent to having sexual contact with someone who was born male.

“That’s not a primary aggressor,” Hoff said. “That’s someone reacting how most people would react under the same situation.”

Arnaud said Bogdanov’s actions made him the first aggressor, not Kuhnhausen. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Colin Hayes added that the teenager had as much right to defend herself from Bogdanov as he did to defend himself from her.

“Even if you don’t agree with her choices, she is entitled to equal protection under the law,” Arnaud said.

Bogdanov had testified that on the day of Kuhnhausen’s death, he booked a one-way flight to Ukraine, and he called a friend to “get rid” of his car.

Hayes said those are not the actions of someone who has done nothing wrong.

Hoff argued Bogdanov was in emotional distress and said Bogdanov voluntarily returned to the U.S. about six weeks later.

“Nikki Kuhnhausen is not here today, not because she was transgender but because Mr. Bogdanov was put in a life-or-death situation,” Hoff said.

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