NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The man charged with murder in the I-440 killing of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman apologized to her family during Friday’s sentencing hearing.
Devaunte Hill took the stand on Friday, March 3, more than a month after a jury found him guilty of second-degree murder.
Caitlyn’s family also spoke for the first time about the verdict.
“Your honor, what is the price for taking someone’s life?” Cailyn’s mom, Diane Kaufman, asked Judge Dalton.
It’s a question that still lingers in the minds of the Kaufman family. Diane said it makes her sick that a jury acquitted the driver and Hill’s cousin, James Cowan, in her daughter’s murder. The family is now seeking the maximum penalty for the shooter, Hill.
“I have to live my life without my daughter, with the images of her lying in a rain soaked highway in a body bag. The image of her body being removed from an airplane in a box. The image of her laying in a casket, knowing that the moment that casket lid is closed, that is the last time I will ever see her physical body again,” Diane cried from the witness stand.
The images were haunting as the family dreamed of what could have been.
“Her dad will never have the opportunity to walk her down the aisle or have the father-daughter dance at her wedding,” Diane explained.
Caitlyn’s ashes are now draped around her mother’s neck inside a necklace, along with Caitlyn’s fingerprint.
“These are all I have left of Caitlyn,” Diane said as she looked at Hill.
The heartbroken mother said she doesn’t know that she will ever forgive him, that he has forced a life sentence on their family.
“Caitlyn was an extraordinary young women; she taught all of us the true meaning of love,” she cried.
Hill’s public defender, Georgia Sims, said, “The law requires today be about Devaunte Hill and why his life matters.”
She pointed to Hill’s childhood as a factor, with a father who was often in jail, a cycle that she said can end here. She then showed pictures and video of Hill with his two children.
Caitlyn’s mother broke down as Hill apologized to the Kaufmans, calling his actions irrational, while Caitlyn’s father fought his tears, sternly shaking his head no.
“I know I made an irrational and dumb decision, and I would really like to apologize to Miss Kaufman’s family on my stupid behavior. I’m sorry my irrational decision resulted in the death of your daughter. She didn’t deserve to die, especially in the way that she did,” Hill said from the stand.
Hill went on to say that he sees this as a second chance to do something right and serve as a mentor for others on the streets.
Hill faces 15 to 25 years in prison. The judge said she thoroughly addressed enhancing and mitigating factors, giving both sides until Friday, March 10 to submit written arguments. The judge will then issue a written order.