21-Year-Old Suffered ‘Cruel And Malicious Acts’ When She Was Murdered By Man She Mistook For Uber Driver, Prosecutor Says

(Reuters, Shannon Stapelton)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Prosecutors argued in court Tuesday that a college student was subjected to “heinous, cruel and malicious acts” after she was kidnapped and murdered by a man she believed to be her Uber driver.

Samantha Josephson was out with friends months before her graduation from the University of South Carolina when she was kidnapped and killed by Nathaniel Rowland on March 29, 2019, NBC News previously reported. Josephson believed Rowland, who was driving a black Chevrolet Impala, was the Uber driver supposed to give her a ride home, according to NBC News. Rowland is accused of the crime, but has not been convicted.

Authorities reportedly discovered her body in the woods off of a dirt road in Clarendon County, about 65 miles away from Columbia where she was last seen. They then reportedly searched Rowland’s vehicle. Investigators found traces of Josephson’s blood, along with her cell phone, NBC News noted.

Authorities said Josephson had sustained wounds to her head, neck, face, upper body, leg and foot, according to NBC News. 

Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson told the jury that prosecutors will prove Rowland was Josephson’s killer by showing the jury surveillance footage, cell phone tracking data, the weapon allegedly used to murder Rowland and other incriminating evidence, NBC News reported.

“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,” Gipson claimed in court, according to NBC News. “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.” (RELATED: Suspect Accused Of Pretending To Be Slain Girl’s Uber Driver Skips Court Appearance)

Defense lawyer Tracy Pinnock argued the jury should keep an open mind about the case because investigators were not able to find Rowland’s DNA on Josephson’s body.

“Ladies and gentlemen I want you to hear this number again, and that is zero,” Pinnock said in court Tuesday, according to NBC News. “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.”

Since his arrest in 2019, Rowland has been held in Richland County jail, and faces life without parole if convicted, NBC News noted.