The man convicted of killing transgender teen Nikki Kuhnhausen in Washington State was sentenced Thursday to 19 years and six months in prison.
David Bogdanov was convicted in August of second-degree murder and malicious harassment, the latter being a hate crime. Nineteen and a half years is the maximum sentence for second-degree murder, with a 12-month maximum sentence for malicious harassment to be served concurrently, The Columbian of Vancouver, Wash., reports.
Kuhnhausen, 17, went missing in June 2019, and her remains were found the following December near Larch Mountain in Washington State. She had been strangled to death. Bogdanov had taken a one-way flight to Ukraine shortly after her death and asked a friend to "get rid" of Kuhnhausen's body, according to trial testimony, then returned to the U.S. after six weeks. He was arrested a few days after her body was found.
Prosecutors said Bogdanov killed Kuhnhausen because he discovered she was trans after they'd had sexual contact. He claimed self-defense, saying that when he pushed her away and told her to leave his car, she reached for a gun. He said he used the cord of a phone charger in an attempt to pull her away from him, but it slipped from her shoulder to her neck. Activists accused Bogdanov of using a "trans panic" defense.
Clark County Superior Court Judge David Gregerson was visibly emotional when he prepared to deliver the sentence, The Columbian reports. "Everyone in this courtroom has been 17 at some point in their lives," he said. "She could've been anyone's son or daughter." He also said he was "struck by the darkness in this case" and that Bogdanov, in abandoning Kuhnhausen's body and leaving the country, "prolonged the suffering and agony of the family and the community."
Kuhnhausen's mother, Lisa Woods, had asked for the maximum sentence for Bogdanov. After Gregerson announced the sentence, she said she felt "blessed" because the judge had honored her daughter.
Bogdanov's attorneys had argued for the minimum sentence, 11 years, because he had no prior offenses. They plan to appeal the convictions and the sentence.