Suspect In Nashville Homicide Facing Federal Firearms And Drug Trafficking Charges | USAO-MDTN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – January 19, 2021 – A criminal complaint obtained today, charged James Edward Cowan, aka James Edward Lillard, 28, of Nashville, with federal firearms and drug offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee.  Cowan was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm; possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime; and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

According to the complaint, on January 12, 2021, Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) detectives were conducting surveillance in the area of the La Quinta Inn on Sidco Drive, in an attempt to locate and arrest Cowan, who was wanted for a homicide which occurred on December 3, 2020, on I-440 in Nashville.  Detectives observed a car enter the parking lot and park and then observed an individual matching the description of Cowan, exit the hotel and enter the car on the passenger side.  The car then exited the lot and detectives maintained visual surveillance of the car as it travelled about the Nashville area before parking in the area of 300 Hickory Hollow Place.  Once parked, detectives determined the passenger was in fact Cowan and arrested him without incident. 

Upon searching Cowan, detectives found a substantial quantity of Xanax pills and fentanyl and more than $2,100 cash in his pockets.  A search of the car produced more pills and other controlled substances.  Detectives also found a Glock pistol with an extended magazine and a .45 caliber handgun.  The driver of the car told detectives that the drugs and guns belonged to Cowan and acknowledged knowing that Cowan was wanted for homicide. The driver was subsequently charged by the MNPD for aiding Cowan in eluding law enforcement.

Cowan was previously convicted for robbery in Davidson County, Tennessee in 2011 and was sentenced to six years’ incarceration.  If convicted of the instant federal offenses, he faces a mandatory minimum of five years and up to life in prison. 

This case is being investigated by the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert E. McGuire is prosecuting the case.   

The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

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