Prosecution to move forward with trial in 2020 murder of ICU nurse

Posted at 2:04 PM, Mar 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 14:04:57-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are new developments in the case of Caitlyn Kaufman, an ICU nurse who was shot and killed on the interstate driving to work.

That was more than a year ago. Now new details on the two suspects have been released, including word that this high-profile case, which stunned the community, will finally be set for trial.

It was just weeks before Christmas 2020 when the 26-year-old was on her way to the hospital working the front lines with COVID-19 patients when she was shot and killed.

Now, finally, perhaps some answers.

"Certainly a significant case. It's something that is cause for concern and alarming to a lot of residents of Davidson County," said NewsChannel5 legal analyst Nick Leonardo.

The crime was unsettling for the public and, of course, tragic.

Metro detectives said six rounds were fired into Kaufman's SUV during rush hour traffic in Nashville. She managed to pull to the shoulder but died within seconds from a single gunshot wound — unable to call 911.

An officer found her in the vehicle three hours later.

Who would target a woman seemingly at random?

"People are going to want to know why," Leonardo said.

There was no traffic camera video of the shooting.

But a week later, a witness helped lead to the arrest of 21-year-old Devaunte Hill and 28-year-old James Cowan. Police said both were in another car. It's believed one of them fired the shot killing Kaufman.

Devaunte Hill and James Cowan

"They both would be equally culpable for the other person's conduct," said Leonardo.

Indeed both are charged with first-degree murder.

A gag order remains in place and both suspects are held without bond. However, NewsChannel 5 has learned there is no talk of a plea deal. The district attorney will seek life in prison. The case is set to go to trial in November.

Leonardo said it may soon finally be known the reason or motive for the deadly shooting.

"Did they know the person? Was it road rage? Or was this an accidental discharge playing with a gun and it went off?" Leonardo said.

Both suspects will have a defense, but we know this: Hill has already implicated himself under questioning and police have recovered a gun — one with a 100% ballistics match to the shooting.

The witness in the case was apparently an acquaintance of Hill's. Hill reportedly confided in him that this was a road rage shooting. The witness helped police recover the murder weapon and received more than $30,000 in reward money.

He will testify at trial this fall.