Student suffered “heinous, cruel and malicious acts” when she was kidnapped and murdered two years ago by a man she mistook for her Uber driver, a South Carolina prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday .
Samantha Josephson was out with her friends just months before graduating from the University of South Carolina before being killed by Nathaniel Rowland on March 29, 2019, authorities said.
Josephson, 21, from Robbinsville, New Jersey, was in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district when she got into Rowland’s black Chevrolet Impala, believing it was her return home.
Fifth Circuit lawyer Byron Gipson told jurors they would be shown surveillance footage, cell phone tracking data, the murder weapon and other incriminating evidence that will lead to a guilty verdict by Rowland.
“It is these willful, heinous, cruel and malicious intentional acts that Nathaniel David Rowland was indicted for for the kidnapping of Samantha Josephson. He was indicted for the murder of Samantha Josephson,” Gipson said.
“And he was charged with possession of a weapon as a result of the commission of a violent crime. And when the time comes, we will ask you to return guilty verdicts on each of those counts.”
The car had its child locks activated so the doors could only be opened from the outside, police said.
His blood and cell phone were found in Rowland’s vehicle after the student’s body was discovered in the woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles away, said officials. She had injuries to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot.
But defense attorney Tracy Pinnock on Tuesday urged jurors to keep an open mind and vowed to show them that an army of crime scene investigators found no DNA evidence linking her client to the murder. by Josephson.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to hear this number again, and it’s zero,” Pinnock said. “It’s the amount of DNA on Samantha Josephson’s body that matches Nathaniel Rowland. Zero. It’s not on her clothes, it’s not under her torn and town fingernails, it’s not on his ankles. “
Josephson was scheduled to graduate from USC in May 2019, before going to law school.
If convicted, Rowland could face life in prison without parole. He has been held at the Richland County Jail since his arrest in 2019.
Josephson’s death brought national attention to hail safety and sparked changes within the industry, including more visible displays of license plates for drivers and drivers who must say their name. passenger before traveling.