The second-degree murder trial for David Bogdanov began in August 2021, more than two years after Nikki Kuhnhaunsen’s murder. Pandemic-related slowdowns had pushed back many court cases in Clark County, Washington, leading to delays in getting to trial.
Just two weeks before the trial began, Bogdanov's defense team announced he would claim self-defense in the killing and that he would take the stand in his own defense. First, the prosecution had to lay out its case. Attorneys called 35 witnesses, including Nikki’s family, detectives and forensic examiners. Experts testified that Nikki had been strangled by a cell phone charging cord. It was formed into a ligature roughly 4 inches in diameter, and was knotted around pieces of Nikki’s hair and a bone from her neck.
When Bogdanov took the stand to testify, he told the court how the night he met Nikki, she consumed drugs in his car. And when the two engaged in sexual activity, Bogdanov discovered Nikki was transgender. He said when he told Nikki to get out of his car, Nikki attacked him, and reached for his gun, which was wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console. Bogdanov claimed that he grabbed a nearby phone cord and used it to restrain Nikki during the alleged attack. He said he positioned the cord against Nikki’s chest, but that at some point, the cord ‘slipped up’ around Nikki’s neck. He testified that he never intended to kill Nikki. After David concluded his testimony, at the end of nearly two weeks of trial, the case went to the jury for a verdict.
Listen to episode five of Should Be Alive: