Caitlyn Kaufman trial: Lawyer says road rage shooter acted in anger, not premeditation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/KDKA) — The trial in the case of a Nashville nurse killed as she was driving to work will center on whether Devaunte Hill acted in a premeditated way when he shot Butler County native Caitlyn Kaufman, or whether he reacted automatically and without thinking after being cut off.

In opening statements on Wednesday, both sides agreed that Hill killed the nurse on Dec. 3, 2020, as she drove to work at St. Thomas West Hospital in Nashville shortly after 6:00 p.m. They even both agree the motive was road rage. However, they differ on whether Hill and co-defendant James Cowan are guilty of first-degree murder, The Tennessean reported.

Kaufman’s Mazda CX-5 SUV was discovered wrecked along Interstate 440 around three hours later by a Metro Parks officer who thought it was a single-vehicle wreck. He discovered the car was riddled with bullets and Kaufman was dead inside.

A tip to police identified Hill, 23, and Cowen, 30, as suspects.

In court on Wednesday, Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman began by painting a picture of the Butler High School and Clarion University graduate’s daily routine, brutally interrupted.

Meanwhile, “At 7:37 p.m. Devaunte Hill was entering into Google ‘Nashville shooting,'” Norman said.

Defense attorney Georgia Sims said Hill told a friend that Kaufman had cut them off.

“He acted in anger,” Sims said. “He did not act with the conscious desire to kill Ms. Kaufman. It is your duty to set aside the emotions you may hear.”

Meanwhile, the attorney for co-defendant Cowan tried to distance his client from the shooting.

“You will hear no proof James Cowan killed anyone,” Ron Munkeboe said during opening arguments. “You will hear no proof that he had a weapon, that he fired a weapon or gave a weapon to anyone. No proof he solicited, ordered or demanded someone to kill anyone.”

Kaufman moved to Nashville in 2018 after accepting a job at Saint Thomas West, fulfilling her longtime desire to live in Nashville.

“It was the city of her dreams,” her mother, Diane Kaufman, told The Tennessean in 2020.

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