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Man on trial accused of murdering woman who mistook him for her Uber driver |  US News

A South Carolina man has been charged with killing a woman who got into his car thinking it was his Uber ride.

Nathaniel Rowland is charged with the kidnapping and murder of 21-year-old college student Samantha Josephson in March 2019.

Ms Josephson’s death prompted changes to improve user safety at companies like Uber.

These included a state law requiring drivers to make license plate numbers visible on the front of their vehicles and criminal penalties for those posing as taxi drivers.

Ms Josephson, of New Jersey, was to graduate from the University of South Carolina and continue her studies in law.

She was in the Five Points entertainment district in Columbia, South Carolina, when she rode in the back of Rowland’s black Chevrolet Impala.

Prosecutors said he circled the block several times before stopping next to Ms Josephson, who was waiting alone for his ride.

Once inside the vehicle, Rowland activated the child locks, meaning the doors could only be opened from the outside, effectively trapping Ms Josephson, it is alleged.

His body was found covered with stab wounds, cuts and other wounds, thrown into a forest about 65 miles from the city.

Prosecutors say they have phone tracking evidence and video footage of Rowland trying to use Ms Josephson’s debit card and sell her cell phone after she goes missing.

They also told the court that investigators located the phones belonging to Ms Josephson and Rowland and found them traveling together for about 20 minutes before her phone went dead.

Her phone was left on all the way to New Zion – her hometown and the place where Ms Josephson’s body was found.

Rowland, who denies all charges, has been in jail since his arrest the day after Ms Josephson went missing.

If found guilty of his murder, he faces life imprisonment.

On the second day of the trial, the court heard from Maria Howard, who was dating Rowland at the time of Ms Josephson’s death.

Ms Howard said she noticed blood inside her car and watched him clean it while wearing surgical gloves.

She also said she saw him cleaning a “knife-shaped” tool that prosecutors said was the murder weapon.

Police officers also told the court that when they searched Rowland’s car they found a rose gold iPhone – believed to belong to Ms Josephson, cleaning supplies and blood.

Earlier in the trial, Rowland’s lawyer Alicia Goode told the court that while there was evidence Ms Josephson had attempted to fight her killer, no DNA collected from her body matched that of the accused.

“It’s not on her clothes, not under her torn and torn fingernails, it’s not on her ankles,” Ms. Goode said.

The trial continues.



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