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Oct. 18, 2021

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Juror issue complicates deliberations in Nikki Kuhnhausen slaying trial

Note to judge expresses concerns about juror misconduct

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
2 Photos
Defendant David Bogdanov awaits the verdict in his murder trial Thursday afternoon at the Clark County Courthouse. The Superior Court jury had not reached a verdict by the end of the day Thursday and will resume deliberations today.
Defendant David Bogdanov awaits the verdict in his murder trial Thursday afternoon at the Clark County Courthouse. The Superior Court jury had not reached a verdict by the end of the day Thursday and will resume deliberations today. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After a full day of deliberations Thursday, the jury in David Bogdanov’s murder trial did not reach a verdict and expressed concerns to the court about potential juror misconduct.

The case went to the jury around 3 p.m. Wednesday, and the jury will return Friday morning to continue deliberating.

Bogdanov, 27, of Vancouver, is charged with second-degree murder and malicious harassment, now legally called a hate-crime offense in Washington, in the strangling of 17-year-old Nikki Kuhnhausen.

Prosecutors argued Bogdanov killed Kuhnhausen because she was transgender. The defense argued it was self-defense.

During the trial, the jury heard testimony about Bogdanov meeting Kuhnhausen in early June 2019, having sexual contact with her in the back seat 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 wrapped a phone charger around her shoulder to pull her away, but the cord slipped up around her neck.

After Kuhnhausen’s death, Bogdanov dumped her body down the hillside of Larch Mountain, booked a one-way flight to Ukraine and called a friend to “get rid” of his car, according to trial testimony. He returned to the U.S. about six weeks later.

‘Interesting situation’

At about 1:20 p.m. Thursday, the court received word that a verdict had been reached, followed by a note — presumably written by the presiding juror. In it, the jury said one of the jurors appeared to not be basing her decision-making on the facts of the case.

In announcing the twist to the courtroom, Judge David Gregerson called it an “interesting situation.”

The jury was subsequently summoned to the courtroom. The presiding juror told the judge the jury had reached a verdict on one count but that it was deadlocked on the other. He said he did not think it could reach a decision with the current jury.

Gregerson instructed the jurors to return to the jury room to fill out the verdict form. However, the jury then submitted another note to the court — this time asking if a juror could be replaced with an alternate. The jury said it believed a juror was basing her decision on personal bias, and would not further share her views or deliberate.

After sharing the latest development, the court recessed to research how to proceed. It ultimately called the jurors back in and re-read the jury instruction on deliberations. The jury then continued to deliberate until 5 p.m.

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