Jury verdict: Cowan not guilty, Hill guilty of second-degree murder in Caitlyn Kaufman case

Devaunte Hill and James Cowan in the murder trial of Caitlyn Kaufman
Posted at 2:59 PM, Jan 31, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After a trial lasting more than a week, a jury acquitted one of the two men charged in the death of nurse Caitlyn Kaufman on I-440 while finding the other defendant guilty of a lesser charge.

On Tuesday the jury found Devaunte Hill guilty of second-degree murder, and returned a not guilty verdict on all charges for James Cowan. Hill fired shots that killed Kaufman two years ago in what was described as a road rage shooting. Cowan was in the car with Hill at the time of the shooting, but the jury found he was not responsible for Kaufman's death.

Both Hill and Cowan faced first-degree premeditated murder counts, as well as lesser counts.

After beginning deliberations Monday, the jury returned to the courtroom early Tuesday afternoon without a verdict. Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton read them the responsibility of the jury, including the need for a decision to be unanimous, before deliberations continued.

The verdict was reached almost an hour later, just before 3 p.m.

watch loved ones of James Cowan react to the news that he received a "not guilty" verdict:

Loved ones of Cowan celebrate his verdict

Sentencing for Hill will take place March 3.

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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