A college student, 21, who mistook a car for her Uber ride was found dead in a wooded area of South Carolina with more than 100 stab wounds, cuts and other abrasions on her body after in 2019, prosecutors said Tuesday during the first day of the trial.
More than two years after Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey, was found dead, South Carolina man Nathaniel Rowland appeared in court on charges of kidnapping and murder and faces up to life in prison.
Josephson was out with her friends in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district before she entered Rowland’s car thinking he was an Uber driver.
Prosecutors said during opening statements that he allegedly tortured her for 65 miles before killing her and dumping her body in the woods near his family’s home.
Rowland, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been in the Richland County jail since his arrest a day after Josephson’s disappearance, has maintained his innocence.
In opening arguments in Richland County Judicial Center in Columbia, prosecutors previewed evidence and testimony they said would implicate Rowland.
The evidence includes surveillance camera footage of Josephson entering Rowland’s car as well as a witness who the prosecutors say allegedly watched Rowland clean the blade he used to repeatedly stab Josephson.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson said cameras in the entertainment district captured Rowland circling the block multiple times in his black Chevrolet Impala before pulling up to Josephson, who was waiting alone.
Josephson got into the car, and it was the last time she was seen alive, the prosecutor said.
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Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina from Robbinsville, New Jersey who was set to graduate and go to law school, was found dead in March of 2019 in South Carolina
Defendant Nathaniel Rowland speaks with his attorney, Alicia Goode, right, during his trial in Richland County Court on July 20
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson (left) and deputy April Sampson confer during a break in the trial of Nathaniel Rowland in the Richland County Courthouse on July 20 in Columbia, South Carolina
Judge Clifton Newman is presiding over the trial of Nathaniel Rowland in Richland County Court, South Carolina
‘As she stood there waiting for that Uber, he had his eyes firmly transfixed on her,’ Gipson said.
‘It’s those intentional deliberate, heinous, cruel and malicious acts that Nathaniel David Rowland has been indicted for kidnapping Samantha Josephson. He’s been indicted for murdering Samantha Josephson,’ Gipson said, according to NBC.
Once inside, Josephson was trapped because Rowland had turned on the backseat child locks so the doors could only be opened from the outside, prosecutors said.
Alicia Goode, one of Rowland’s public defenders, said the law-school bound college student fought back, yet none of the DNA evidence gathered from the victim matches Rowland.
‘Zero: that’s the amount of DNA on Samantha Josephson´s body that matches Nathaniel’s,’ Goode said. ‘Zero. It’s not on her clothing, not under her ripped and torn fingernails, it’s not on her ankles.’
After opening statements from the prosecution and defense, witnesses began testimony in front of jurors Tuesday afternoon.
The trial of Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, (left) who was charged in the 2019 murder and kidnapping of University of South Carolina senior Samantha Josephson, 21, (right), started on Tuesday
Defense attorney Alicia Goode delivers opening arguments during the trial of Nathaniel Rowland on July 20
Fifth Circuit solicitor Byron Gipson delivers an opening statement during the trial of Nathaniel Rowland in Richland County Court on July 20
Josephson’s death in 2019 drew national attention to safety concerns about ride-hailing services and prompted changes.
South Carolina lawmakers enacted a measure that requires drivers to make license plate numbers visible in the front of their vehicles and creates criminal penalties for people who impersonate ride-hailing drivers.
Josephson’s death rocked her school and home communities in 2019 as hundreds mourned her loss at a vigil in 2010