Testimonies continue as Caitlyn Kaufman murder trial enters fifth day

Trial will resume Saturday at 9 a.m.
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Posted at 5:15 AM, Jan 27, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Text messages, pictures and videos helped police piece together what happened the days before and after Caitlyn Kaufman was killed.

The state has rested its case and has no more witnesses to take the stand.

The defense asked the judge for a motion for acquittal both defendants and both motions were denied based on evidence.

Yes, MNPD detective Chad Gish testified there were social media messages to trade guns, text messages putting the defendants together in a car on the day of the murder.

Another big help was searched on the internet.

"I found a lot of things relevant in the time frame of this investigation," said Detective Chad Gish.

Gish said he found a lot of evidence on three phones belonging to defendant James Cowan. But investigators weren’t able to recover the phone Cowan used to text Hill around the time of the murder.

But they did get a search warrant for his girlfriend’s phone.

There they found a picture of Cowan from November 2020 standing near a gray Cadillac with a Florida tag. The same tag was found when a gray Cadillac was on fire weeks after the murder.

Devaunte Hill’s phone we learned had 20 calls and 145 texts to James Cowan.

Gish testified that once they received Hill’s phone, they learned he searched the internet for information on a shooting the same evening if the murder.

"When I saw this, I knew the internet history we see at 7:37 pm it’s searching for Nashville shooting. If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think the police department about the crime at that point on I-440 when Caitlyn was shot and killed," said Gish.

Testimony shared said Hill sent Facebook messages around 1:15 in the morning the next day of the shooting, showing he was asking someone to trade a gun.

Merrell Odom’s phone cleared him from being anywhere from the scene of the crime on the day of the murder.

Kaufman’s GPS on her phone showed she was likely shot and killed around 6:08 and 59 seconds that evening when her SUV stopped moving.

The trial will resume Saturday morning.

Day four of the trial was another emotional day. Several people had to leave the courtroom as details of exactly how Kaufman died were shared.

Six more witnesses were called to testify in front of the jury. The jury was also shown autopsy photos of Kaufman's clothes, as well as a photo of her injury.

The man who helped police make the arrests in the case also spoke, detailing what happened and what led him to speak to police.

Trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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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