Samantha Josephson, the college student killed two years ago after she mistakenly entered a car believing it was her Uber ride, was the victim of “heinous, cruel and malicious acts,” the prosecution in the trial of her accused murderer, Nathaniel Rowland, said on Tuesday.
Josephson, 21, was last seen at a bar in Columbia, South Carolina, in the early morning hours of March 29, 2019.
She was later found dead by hunters in a remote area in Claredon County — about 65 miles away from where police believe she had got into a black Chevy Impala driven by Rowland, now 27, thinking it was her ride home.
During opening arguments at Rowland’s trial on Tuesday, Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson said that the prosecution have cell phone tracking data that placed Josephson and Rowland on a car ride together.
The prosecution also has a “knife-bladed tool” linked to Rowland that makes matching cuts to the ones found on Josephson, who was “stabbed multiple times, throughout her feet, throughout her torso, throughout her face, her neck, her hands,” according to Gipson.
“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 of Samantha Josephson,” said Gipson, who argued that prosecutors have surveillance footage and testimonies from DNA experts supporting their allegations against Rowland.
“And he’s been indicted for possession of a weapon from the commission of a violent crime. And at the appropriate time, we’ll ask that you return verdicts on guilty on each one of those counts,” Gipson added.
However, defense lawyer Alicia Goode argued during her opening statements that investigators have not found any DNA evidence on Josephson’s clothes or body linking Rowland to her killing.
“Ladies and gentlemen I want you to hear this number again, and that is zero,” Goode said. “That’s the amount of DNA on Samantha Josephson’s body that matches Nathaniel Rowland. Zero. It’s not on her clothing, it’s not under her ripped and torn finger nails, it’s not on her ankles.”
Goode also claimed that investigators found DNA belonging to “multiple someones” instead.
“There is zero evidence that Nathaniel Rowland is the one who kidnapped and killed Samantha Josephson,” said Goode. “Do not jump to conclusions about this case.”
Josephson, a University of South Carolina senior from New Jersey, was weeks away from graduating with a degree in political science when she was killed, according to The State. She had planned to go to the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia upon her graduation.
Her death has inspired action from state lawmakers, who filed legislation soon after her killing requiring all ride-share vehicles to display an illuminated sign featuring their company’s name.
The ride-share industry have also implemented changes like clearer displays of driver license plates following Josephson’s death.