NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The trial of the two men accused of killing nurse Caitlyn Kaufman in December 2020 began in a Nashville courtroom Wednesday.
The 26-year-old was on her way to work as an ICU nurse at Ascension Saint Thomas West when she was shot and killed while driving on Interstate 440. Detectives believe she pulled her SUV over to the shoulder of the busy interstate after she was shot.
Her body was discovered inside her vehicle two hours later by a Metro Parks employee with the SUV still running and her foot on the brake. Kaufman is believed to have died within minutes after gunshots were fired into her vehicle.
A tip from a citizen led to the arrest of 23-year-old Devaunte Hill nine days after Kaufman’s death. Information from that same tip led investigators to James Cowan, 30, who was also arrested and charged in her death.
Investigators said Cowan was in the vehicle with Hill the night Kaufman was killed.
A witness in a preliminary hearing claimed Hill implicated himself as the shooting and said road rage was the motive.
Cowan and Hill could face up to life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder. They have been held at the Metro jail since their arrests.
The men will be tried together with separate attorneys representing them.
It took two days to select the jury, which was finalized Tuesday afternoon. On Wednesday, jurors first heard testimony from Diane Kaufman, the victim’s mother before one of her nursing colleagues, Jessica Dunn.
The prosecution then called the Parks officer who first responded to Kaufman’s stopped SUV and the first responding officers who arrived to the scene.
Civilian crime scene investigator then testified regarding the 59 photographs she took of the scene along I-40 where Kaufman’s SUV was found, including images of her SUV riddled with bullet holes.
The trial is expected to last about a week.