Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, had been missing since the summer. (Facebook)
The killer who strangled 17-year-old trans girl Nikki Kuhnhausen to death with a phone cord has been convicted of her murder.
First reported missing in June 2019 by her family, the search for Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was brought to a graphic end months later when her fractured skull was found in a woodland in neighbouring Oregon.
Prosecutors claimed that David Bogdanov, of Vancouver, met the victim on Snapchat before strangling her to death during a sexual encounter in the back of his car. After realising she was trans, they said, he choked her with the cord of a mobile phone charger.
Two years later, and on Friday (27 August), a Clark County Superior Court jury returned the verdict against Bogdanov, convicting him of second-degree murder and a hate-crime offence, USA Today reported.
Bogdanov was convicted of second-degree murder and malicious harassment, which is a hate crime under Washington state law.
Bogdanov faces 11 to 19-and-a-half years in prison. He will be sentenced 9 September.
Kuhnhausen family’s quietly blurted “yes” between tears as the decision was read in court.
Nikki Kuhnhausen supporters ‘held hands’ as they awaited verdict
David Bogdanov claimed he had acted in “self-defence” – Nikki Kuhnhausen reached for her gun during the scuffle, his defence attorney alleged, so he used the cord to restrain her.
The case prompted state legislators to introduce and sign the Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, banning the so-called trans and gay “panic defence” altogether in 2020.
“We want to thank our law enforcement partners who put in a lot of work on this case, especially detective David Jensen and detective Jason Mills of Vancouver Police,” deputy prosecutor Kristen Arnaud told The Columbian.
“Without their work, we would not have been able to bring justice for Nikki and give closure to her family.
“We also want to thank the jurors for their service. This was a long trial and a huge commitment on their part.”
Kuhnhausen, described by those who knew her as a high-spirited and humble teenager, dreamed of being a makeup artist for Nicki Minaj and to compete one day on America’s Next Top Model.
“She inspired a lot of people to actually feel free to come out as who they want to be,” her mother, Lisa Woods, told People last year.
Bogdanov’s conviction is the end of a family and community’s anguish and longing for justice.
“We were all holding hands while we were awaiting the verdict to be read and that was really powerful,” Linden Walls, a member of the group Justice for Nikki, told The Columbian.
“It felt like we were all together, and the sense of relief that came that we got justice for Nikki, that we were able to push this and the jury could see it and did the right thing.”