Man accused of shooting, killing Nashville ICU nurse asks court for release until trial

Devaunte Hill has been held without bond for 15 months
devaunte hill in court for hearing
Posted at 11:12 AM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 20:09:52-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The accused gunman in the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman is asking to get out of jail while awaiting trial.

Devaunte Hill's attorney said her client's been unfairly held without bond for more than a year in the high-profile case. But prosecutors say Hill is far too dangerous to risk releasing.

Under the law, everyone is entitled to a bond unless it is a capital case. There is no indication prosecutors will seek the death penalty in this case, so one of the suspects is asking for a bond to be set.

Kaufman, who was an ICU nurse in Nashville, was shot and killed while driving to work on Interstate 440 in Nashville just weeks before Christmas in 2020.

Caitlyn Kaufman

Metro detectives say six rounds were fired into her SUV during rush hour traffic. She managed to pull to the shoulder but died within seconds from a single gunshot wound.

A week later, police arrested 22-year-old Devaunte Hill and 30-year-old James Cowan. Both are charged with first-degree murder and have been held without bond.

Devaunte Hill and James Cowan

At a hearing on Monday, Hill's lawyer said it's wrong that her client has been held without bond for the past 15 months.

"It is unusual in this jurisdiction that individuals be held without bond even on serious cases," said attorney Georgia Sims.

She argued bond is set all the time for homicide suspects in places like the James Cayce homes or University Court — but not so with the Kaufman case.

"So, let's be really careful that we are not suggesting that Mr. Hill is more dangerous because the allegations here veer across I-40 into a wealthy white neighborhood as opposed to where we see most of the gun violence here in Nashville because the lives of poor people of color in this city are just as valuable," said Sims.

Prosecutor Jan Norman responded, "the defense alleges this has something to do with race or color of skin. This has nothing to do with the issue of whether bond should be set."

Norman said the issue is Hill's violent criminal past and the alleged shooting of Kaufman.

"Because of that he is very dangerous... the court should consider protecting all the citizens of Davidson County," said Norman.

A typical bond for a first-degree murder charge can be $250,000.

Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton will decide on a bond in the next few days and then it's a question of whether Hill will be able to pay it.

A key witness in the case indicated that road rage was the motive for the shooting.

The trial is set for November.