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How cell phone data was used to track moments Nashville nurse died on I-440

How cell phone data was used to track moments Nashville nurse died on I-440 (Photo: FOX 17 News)
How cell phone data was used to track moments Nashville nurse died on I-440 (Photo: FOX 17 News)
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We're learning more about the moments a Nashville ICU nurse died on the interstate after an apparent road rage shooting in Dec. 2020.

An expert witness took the stand Friday to tell jurors how he used digital forensics to extract cell phone data from Caitlyn Kaufman's iPhone and her alleged killers' devices.

The crime in question had no video or witness evidence early on in the investigation. So Detective Chad Gish used the next best thing: GPS data to track the date and exact time of the murder.

Caitlyn's cell phone was still plugged into the center console of her Mazda CX5 when she was found unresponsive on I-440. It was turned over to Det. Gish for processing and he began extracting data to try and pinpoint the moments leading up to her death.

"[iPhone] GPS tracks date and time of a location marker—and speed. So that’s how we know the date and time Caitlyn’s vehicle slowed."

Six rounds were fired into Kaufman's car while she was driving to her shift at St. Thomas West. Prosecutors previously said her Mazda and the suspect vehicle were traveling around 70 mph. After one bullet traveled through her chest, Kaufman's vehicle began to slow at approximately 6:08:41 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2020, Gish said.

It came to a stop 18 seconds later.

She wasn't found until 8:53 p.m. when a Metro Parks officer stopped to help what he thought was a disabled motorist. Her vehicle was still running and her head was slumped over to her right side, foot still on the brake.

Gish says he found nothing in her phone that would indicate she had an altercation with someone she knew. There were no odd texts or recent contacts that raised any red flags. Aside from listening to Spotify, Detective Gish says he found no evidence that Kaufman had been using her cell phone at the time of the shooting.

Days later, Jacques Merrell-Odom led Metro Police to the murder weapon, resulting in the arrest of Devaunte Hill and James Cowan. A search warrant was issued for both of their phones, and Gish began another grueling extraction process.

RELATED: Suspect's friend who led detectives to murder weapon testifies in Kaufman trial

In his testimony, Gish showed the jury text messages, phone calls, and Google searches from Hill's Android phone in the hours leading up to and after the shooting.

At 7:32 p.m., phone records show Hill texted a friend that he was "Cooling at the house." Minutes later, he Googled "Nashville shooting."

Just after 10 p.m., Hill called Cowan and they spoke for about 40 seconds. Cowan called Hill back just before midnight and they spoke briefly.

At 12:05 a.m. on Dec. 4, Hill tracked an order for a Papa Johns pizza he had ordered.

At 2:22 a.m., Hill read a FOX 17 News story where he learned the driver he shot on I-440 was a local nurse.

An extraction from Cowan's phone found text messages exchanged to his girlfriend Dimeneshia Carter, who was later charged for harboring a fugitive. Just minutes after Kaufman was shot, cell phone data from Cowan and Carter show the pair were planning to meet up in an area not far from the crime scene.

On the morning of Dec. 7, Carter's device connected to the suspect vehicle, a Cadillac SUV which was later found burned.

Further analysis conducted by a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) would put Kaufman and Cowan's devices in the same general area of I-440 at 6:08 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2020, the time of the shooting.

ALSO READ: Kaufman family sheds tears while forensic pathologist details autopsy

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