A South Carolina man has been sentenced to life in prison for abducting and killing a college student who mistook his car for her Uber ride.
Nathaniel Rowland was found guilty of killing Samantha Josephson. In March 2019, Josephson, 21, of Robbinsville, New Jersey, attended the University of South Carolina. She ordered an Uber from Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district and got into Rowland’s car, thinking it was the Uber to take her back to her apartment.
The childproof locks trapped Josephson in the back of the vehicle. She was never seen alive again. Her body was found 65 miles outside of Columbia in a remote wooded area. She was covered in approximately 120 stab wounds.
Rowland maintained his innocence prior to sentencing. Prosecutors spent a week presenting evidence and called nearly three dozen witnesses. Experts linked Josephson’s blood to the interior of Rowland’s Chevrolet Impala. They also linked her blood to the suspected murder weapon—a knife with two blades.
Other evidence against Rowland included cellphone tracking data putting him at the location of the crime, and Josephson’s genetic material was found under his fingernails. Josephson’s blood was also found on cleaning supplies in the trash behind Rowland’s girlfriend’s house.
Rowland’s defense attorney asked for the charges to be thrown out because the prosecutors presented a “circumstantial case.” The judge rejected the request, saying there was enough evidence for the jury to consider.
According to Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, Josephson left behind substantial evidence of the identity of her killer: “She obviously put up an amazing fight against you and left a sufficient trail for the jury to see what you did.”
In a statement from Josephson’s mother, Marci Josephson said, “Her dreams were my dreams, and her death was my death. I close my eyes, and I feel what she endured at his hands.”
Rowland is not eligible for parole per South Carolina law and his life sentence. Josephson’s murder sparked outrage across the country and a demand for stricter rideshare regulations.
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