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'Our lives were shattered': Devaunte Hill to be sentenced for killing Nashville nurse

'They get to live, my daughter doesn’t'
James Cowan and Devaunte Hill in court
Posted at 8:42 AM, Mar 03, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — At the sentencing hearing, Caitlyn Kaufman's grieving mom had some strong words for the trigger man who killed her daughter on I-440.

Devaunte Hill's verdict came in at the end of January, while his co-defendant James Cowan received a Not Guilty verdict.

Hill fired shots that killed Kaufman two years ago in what was described as a road rage shooting.

"This has truly been my family’s worst nightmare that we’ve been forced to live," the victim's mom, Diane Kaufman, said.

"She was my pride and joy; she had beautiful blue eyes and a smile that put you at ease," Diane said.

Through her tears, she had some words for Devaunte at the sentencing hearing.

“You’ve taken so much from my family, and from Caitlyn’s friends — there is so much that she wanted to do, that she’ll never get to do because she was murdered. From meeting her Godson to being in her brother’s wedding to being in two of her best friend’s weddings to getting engaged herself and having the wedding of her dreams — having the three children whose names she already picked out.”

Hill took the stand to reply to her.

"I know I made an irrational and dumb decision, and I’d really like to apologize to Ms. Kaufman for my stupid behavior," Devaunte Hill said.

But no words, or remorse, will bring Caitlyn back.

"I have no doubt that Caitlyn is in heaven; my heart and our lives were shattered on December 3rd 2020," Diane said. "Our daughter, Tyler’s sister, was murdered. Caitlyn was not ready to die; she had so much to live for and accomplish in this world."

Diane is also upset the jury acquitted the other person in the car, James Cowan. He was found not guilty of any charges. However, he’s locked up as a federal court case is pending.

"How will the jury feel when Mr. Cowan and Hill murder again? The defendants stole my daughter’s life, but they get to live; my daughter doesn’t," Kaufman said.

The judge is taking the sentencing under advisement. She will issue a written decision on how long Hill will serve behind bars later this month.

Caitlyn Kaufman's mother takes the stand in Devaunte Hill's sentencing

Timeline of events

On the evening of December 3, 2020, Caitlyn Kaufman was driving along Interstate 440 on her way to work at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital when she was shot and killed.

According to Metro Police, a Metro Parks officer had seen a Mazda SUV on the right shoulder against the guard rail and assuming the driver had crashed, he approached to help. Inside they found Kaufman, who had died from a gunshot wound.

Investigators said there were bullet holes in the window of the car. They believe the bullets were fired into the SUV.

Detectives said six rounds were fired into the vehicle.

A week later, on December 11, then 21-year-old Devaunte L. Hill was taken into custody and charged with criminal homicide.

READ: Suspect arrested in Nashville nurse's murder had violent history

A day later, a second suspect, James Edward Cowan, also known as James Lillard was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

In January 2021, a witness testified that he heard one of the suspects confess to killing Kaufman and said the suspect claimed they shot the nurse because she may have cut them off on I-440.

READ: Caitlyn Kaufman case bound over to grand jury; Witness testifies he heard suspect confess to killing nurse


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