NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A verdict has been reached in the trial of the two men accused of shooting and killing Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman on Interstate 440 in December 2020.
Devaunte Hill was found guilty of second-degree murder, while his cousin, James Cowan, was found not guilty. Sentencing for Hill is currently scheduled for March 3.
Closing arguments wrapped up Monday and the jury then went into deliberation.
Hill, who confessed to pulling the trigger during the trial on Saturday, said he wasn’t thinking clearly. He testified he remembers shooting the gun, but that most of the details are a blur.
Hill said he was the passenger in the car with his cousin, Cowan, and on the way to pick up Cowan’s girlfriend when Kaufman cut them off. He testified he picked up a gun he had in his lap and began firing out the window.
“I don’t remember all the facts of that, I just remember picking up the gun and shooting, that’s it. I can’t tell you how many times I shot, I can’t tell you if I seen the woman, I couldn’t tell you I didn’t see, like, I just reacted recklessly,” said Hill.
Hill admitted that he ended up trading the gun with a friend, as well as lying to the police in order to protect his cousin.
Criminal trial attorney Ben Powers, who is not associated with this case, said the jury was deliberate and thoughtful in their verdict.
“If you find second-degree for the shooter, inherently, you have to find the driver ‘not guilty’ because there is no premeditation for the driver if the shooter acted recklessly without notice or agreement or anything to that effect,” Powers said.
He said the jury seemed to believe Hill when he said he shot and killed Kaufman in a moment of rage.
“That was a gross reaction, a gross overreaction, but it wasn’t premeditated,” Powers said of the jury’s mindset.
Hill’s sentencing hearing is set for March and he will face 15 to 25 years behind bars.
Who was Caitlyn Kaufman?
The 26-year-old was on her way to work as an ICU nurse at Ascension Saint Thomas West when she was shot and killed while driving on Interstate 440. Detectives believe she pulled her SUV over to the shoulder of the busy interstate after she was shot.
Her body was found inside her vehicle two hours later by a Metro Parks employee with the SUV still running and her foot on the brake. Kaufman is believed to have died within minutes after gunshots were fired into her vehicle.
A tip from a citizen led to the arrest of 23-year-old Hill nine days after Kaufman’s death. Information from that same tip led investigators to Cowan, 30, who was also arrested and charged in her death.
Investigators said Cowan was in the vehicle with Hill the night Kaufman was killed.
A witness in a preliminary hearing claimed Hill implicated himself as the shooter and said road rage was the motive.