Deliberations begin in case of men accused of killing Nashville nurse

Posted at 2:36 PM, January 30, 2023 and last updated 2:48 PM, January 30, 2023

By Amelia Young

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The trial for two men accused in the murder of Nashville nurse Caitlyn Kaufman resumed on Monday with closing arguments. After Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton read the instructions to the jury, two alternates were dismissed and the jury began deliberations.

It comes after one of the defendants gave eye-opening testimony about what led to the shooting that killed the nurse.

booking photos of Devaunte Hill and James Cowen

Devaunte Hill (left) and James Cowan (right) Photo credit: Metro Nashville Police Department

Defendant Devaunte Hill’s attorney argues he shouldn’t be charged with first-degree murder because the shooting wasn’t premeditated.

Hill said on the day of the shooting in 2020, he had just left his brother’s house with the other defendant, James Cowan. Hill testified he wasn’t thinking clearly because he had also just done cocaine and taken Xanax.

READ MORE: Jury selected in trial of men accused of in shooting death of Nashville nurse

Before getting in the car, Hill says he placed his loaded gun on his lap. As Cowan was driving on Interstate 440, Hill said Kaufman cut them off and Cowan swerved around her. That’s when Hill fired the gun without knowing who was inside the other car.

He said multiple times that Cowan had nothing to do with the shooting and that it just happened in an instant.

The state rested its case on Friday, with the defense following on Saturday afternoon — ending the evidence phase of the trial.

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


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.

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

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

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.

This story was originally published Jan. 30, 2023 by WTVF in Nashville, a E.W. Scripps company.