A college student, 21, who mistook a car for her Uber ride was found dead in a wooded South Carolina area with more than 100 stab wounds, cuts and other abrasions to her body in 2019, prosecutors said on day one on Tuesday. of the process.
More than two years after Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student in Robbinsville, New Jersey, was found dead, Nathaniel Rowland, a South Carolina man, appeared in court on charges of kidnapping and murder and facing a life imprisonment.
Josephson was out with her friends at the Five Points entertainment district in Columbia before entering Rowland’s car assuming he was an Uber driver.
Prosecutors said in opening statements that he allegedly tortured her for 65 miles before killing her and dumping her body in the woods near his family’s home.
Rowland, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been in the Richland County Jail since his arrest a day after Josephson’s disappearance, maintains his innocence.
When opening arguments at the Richland County Judicial Center in Columbia, prosecutors looked at evidence and testimony that they said would implicate Rowland.
Evidence includes CCTV footage of Josephson entering Rowland’s car, as well as a witness prosecutors say saw Rowland cleaning the knife he used to repeatedly stab Josephson.
Fifth Circuit attorney Byron Gipson said cameras in the entertainment district captured Rowland several times around the block in his black Chevrolet Impala before stopping at Josephson, who was waiting alone.
Josephson got into the car and it was the last time she was seen alive, the prosecutor said.
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Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old University of South Carolina from Robbinsville, New Jersey who was about to graduate from law school, was found dead in South Carolina in March 2019.
Defendant Nathaniel Rowland speaks with his attorney, Alicia Goode, right, during his trial in Richland County Court on July 20
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson (left) and Deputy April Sampson confer during a pause in the Nathaniel Rowland trial at Richland County Courthouse on July 20 in Columbia, South Carolina
Judge Clifton Newman presides over Nathaniel Rowland’s trial in South Carolina Richland County Court
“When she was there waiting for that Uber, he had his eyes on her,” Gipson said.
“It is those willful, horrific, cruel and malicious acts that Nathaniel indicted David Rowland for the kidnapping of Samantha Josephson. He has been charged with the murder of Samantha Josephson,” Gipson said NBC.
Once inside, Josephson was trapped because Rowland had engaged the child locks in the back seat so that the doors could only be opened from the outside, prosecutors said.
Alicia Goode, one of Rowland’s public defenders, said the law school-bound student is fighting back, but none of the DNA evidence collected from the victim matches Rowland.
“Zero: That’s the amount of DNA on Samantha Josephson’s body that matches Nathaniel’s,” Goode said. ‘Zero. It’s not on her clothes, not under her torn and torn fingernails, it’s not on her ankles.’
After opening statements from the prosecution and defense, witnesses began testifying for jurors on Tuesday afternoon.
The trial of Nathaniel David Rowland, 24, (left), who was charged with the 2019 murder and kidnapping of senior Samantha Josephson, 21, (right), at the University of South Carolina, began Tuesday
Defense attorney Alicia Goode gives opening arguments during Nathaniel Rowland trial on July 20
Fifth Circuit attorney Byron Gipson makes opening statement at Richland County Court trial of Nathaniel Rowland on July 20
Josephson’s death in 2019 drew national attention to concerns about the safety of taxi services and sparked changes.
South Carolina lawmakers have passed a measure requiring drivers to display license plate numbers on the front of their vehicles and impose criminal penalties on people impersonating drivers who drive.
Josephson’s death shocked her school and home communities in 2019, as hundreds mourned her loss at a 2010 vigil