NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two suspects charged in killing nurse Caitlyn Kaufman were in court Thursday.
The key witness, who the Judge asked not be identified for safety concerns, testified that Devaunte Hill implicated himself as the shooter pointing to road rage as the motive.
The witness said that he had traded guns with Hill, an associate, after the shooting. The informant saying the gun Hill passed on to him was the one used in Kaufman’s murder.
During testimony, that friend also said he had a conversation with Hill after the shooting, where Hill told the friend to get rid of the gun and showed the friend a news article about Kaufman’s death. At that point, Hill reportedly said Kaufman cut him off while driving, telling his friend he was quote “pissed and shot up the car.”
Hill’s attorney, on the other hand, tried to discredit the informant’s testimony by detailing his lengthy criminal history, pointing out that he was in possession of a murder weapon, and implying that the informant may have been encouraged to frame someone else for the crime in order to cash in on the hefty reward.
In another bombshell revelation, the witness said he didn’t want to go to police with the information he had. Instead, he reached out to Kaufman’s mother on social media to inform her. When he didn’t receive a response, the witness claims he went to the hospital where Kaufman worked, hoping to get the message to her mom. That’s when police were called.
Thursday we also heard from detectives who explained that technology played a substantial role in leading them to both suspects.
Texts and cell phone tower data from Hill helped detectives corroborate some of the key witness’s testimony.
Detectives said Hill changed the story of his whereabouts the night of December 3. At one point they said he named another man that he was reportedly with in the car, saying that person shot at Kaufman’s car after they were cut off in traffic. Police said they couldn’t find anyone by that name in his contacts.
When questioned about the man now named as a co-defendant in the case, James Cowan, Hill initially claimed he didn’t know him, but detectives say cell phone records tell a different story.
“When I started analyzing the data of James Cowan through his phone I found where they had communicated through text and email at least 21 times since Caitlyn was murdered,” said Detective Chad Gish.
He also testified that Hill was searching online for articles about a Nashville shooting before police even found Kaufman dead in her car on I-440. He said cell phone records also show Hill was sending messages to people about trading the gun that police say was used in Kaufman’s murder.
It was also cell phone data, according to investigators, that pinged Cowan’s car in the vicinity of I-440 the night of Kaufman’s murder.
Thursday the judge bound the case over to the grand jury. The judge also denied bond for Hill.
Kaufman’s former diving coach at Clarion University spoke with ABC affiliate WTAE about the major loss her friends and teammates are working to cope with.
“It’s really sad because it feels like it was so unwarranted… to lose your life like that…so young…so full of life,” diving coach Brehan Kelley said. “It’s been hard on our community and her teammates.”
Kelley said she was speaking on behalf of herself and diving coach Dave Hrovat. Kelley explained Kaufman was still very close to her teammates when she moved to Nashville. They remember Kaufman as hardworking, trustworthy, and inspiring to be around.
“Caitlyn was a ray of sunshine,” Kelley said. “It was always her dream to move to Nashville. She loved that scene, she loved helping people and was following her passion — being a nurse.”