‘Nikki Kuhnhausen Act’ aims to block panic defenses

Washington

Nikki Kuhnhausen was a 17-year-old transgender teen from Vancouver

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The killing of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a transgender teen from Vancouver, sparked outrage and an outpouring of support for her, her family and her friends.

It also spurred the Washington legislature to take up a bill to block an accused killer from using a panic defense or claim diminished capacity.

The body of Nikki Kuhnhausen was found in early December. The 17-year-old had not contacted her family since June 5. Nikki’s friends told detectives she had been staying with a friend on the night of June 5 but left to meet a man.

David Bogdanov in his first appearance in a Clark County courtroom on a charge of murdering Nikki Kuhnhausen, Decembere 18, 2019 (KOIN)

David Bogdanov, who had no prior criminal history, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and with committing a hate crime.

Court documents revealed he was “shocked,” “uncomfortable” and “really, really disturbed” when he found out Nikki was biologically male.

The Nikki Kuhnhausen Act — officially HB 1687 — would do at least 2 things: prevent a defendant from using a defense of panic after discovering someone’s actual or perceived gender identity and prevent a defendant from using “diminished capacity” as a defense.

Rep. Sharon Wylie, a Democrat from Vancouver, said this law is necessary to protect people being targeted.

Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, February 18, 2020 (KOIN)

“I guess the easiest way for me to wrap my brain around it is, you know, 40 years ago when I was working in the trenches to help rape victims, we were fighting against the idea that if a woman took a drink alone in a bar or if she wore a short skirt, she was a target. It was a legitimate thing to attack her,” Wylie told KOIN 6 News. “Right now we have teenagers and young people and older people who are being attacked for who they are. And to me, there’s an equivalency there and we need to take this step.”

She said the prospects of this bill becoming law are “very good.”

Bogdanov remains behind bars. His trial date is scheduled for July 6.

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