A college student suffered “heinous, cruel and malicious acts” when she was kidnapped and murdered two years ago by a man she confused with her Uber driver, a South Carolina prosecutor told reporters Tuesday.
Samantha Josephson was out with her friends just months after she graduated from the University of South Carolina before she was allegedly killed by Nathaniel Rowland on March 29, 2019, authorities said.
Josephson, a 21-year-old native of Robbinsville, New Jersey, was in Columbia’s Five Point entertainment district when she entered Rowland’s black Chevrolet Impala and thought it was her turn home.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson told jurors that they will be shown surveillance footage, cell phone tracking data, the murder weapon and other incriminating evidence that will lead to a finding of Rowland’s guilt.
“It is the intentional, heinous, heinous, cruel and malicious acts that Nathaniel David Rowland has been charged with kidnapping Samantha Josephson. He has been charged with the murder of Samantha Josephson,” Gipson said.
“And he has been charged with possession of a weapon from the commission of a violent crime. And at the proper time, we ask you to revoke convictions for guilt in each of these charges.”
Gipson painted an alternately bright and eerie picture of the scene – of Josephson celebrating the end of school, and of the accused allegedly lying in wait.
“They had their eyes fixed on their future and their eyes fixed on their love for each other,” Gipson said of the victim and her friends.
“But what they did not realize, what they could never realize, is that the defendant, Nathaniel David Rowland, had a strong look at Samantha Josephson. He had a look at Mrs. Josephson as she walked outside the Bird Dog Lounge in Five Points alone. , when she went outside, as she had ordered an Uber ride, alone. “
And when she got into the car, there was no way out as the child restraints were activated and the doors could only be opened from the outside, the prosecutor said.
Her 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, officials said. She had sores on her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot.
But defense attorney Tracy Pinnock on Tuesday urged jurors to keep an open mind and promised to show them that an army of investigators at the crime scene found no DNA evidence linking her client to Josephson’s murder.
“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 skin and fingernails, it’s not on her 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 detained in Richland County Jail since his arrest in 2019.
Josephson’s death drew national attention to the safety of the driving range and spurred changes in the industry, including more prominent exhibits of driving licenses and drivers who had to say the name of their passengers before traveling.