A South Carolina man was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for abducting and killing a college student who mistakenly entered his car thinking it was her Uber in March 2019. The student was found dead with 120 stab wounds.
Judge Clifton Newman gave Nathaniel Rowland the maximum penalty after the jury found him guilty for the murder of Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, according to a report by 19 WLTX.
Josephson had gotten into Rowland’s car after a night out in the Five Points district in Columbia, South Carolina, assuming Rowland was her Uber driver who would take her back to her apartment, prosecutors said.
Hours later, the student was found dead in a field in Clarendon County, South Carolina — about 65 miles away — with 120 stab wounds, prosecutors added.
“Her dreams were my dreams, and her death was my death. I close my eyes, and I feel what she endured at his hands,” said the student’s mother, Marci Josephson, at Rowland’s sentencing on Tuesday, reports WCVB.
“Her death sliced through my heart,” the mother added before Rowland’s sentencing. “He is evil, he is a monster — I pray that he feels Samantha’s pain.”
During the trial, prosecutors called in experts who linked Josephson’s blood to the inside of Rowland’s vehicle, and to the murder weapon allegedly used to kill the student — a knife with two blades, which left parallel stab wounds on the victim’s body.
Josephson’s blood was also found on cleaning supplies in the trash can behind Rowland’s ex-girlfriend’s house, as well as on a sock and bandana owned by Rowland, the experts added.
Jurors also heard from surveillance and video analyst Justin Martin, who traced Rowland and Josephson’s phones, saying the phones were together out of Five Points for a short period of time before the victim’s phone stopped showing up. Martin added that Rowland’s phone continued to ping until it was in a remote area of Clarendon County, where investigators found Josephson’s body.
Rowland has maintained his innocence, stating, “I know I’m innocent but I guess what I know and what I think really doesn’t matter,” before being sentenced to life in prison.
His defense honed in on two major claims during the trial, which were that Rowland’s DNA was not found on Josephson’s body, and that his DNA was also not found on the handle of the murder weapon, reports 19 WLTX.
However, a DNA expert testified that the victim’s DNA was found under Rowland’s fingernails, and that her blood was found on the blade.
Judge Newman said there was an “avalanche” of evidence against Rowland, adding, “All roads led to you. Every speck of evidence led to you.”
“I have dealt with the heartless and you fall into that category, without any remorse whatsoever,” the judge added. “A person who is totally emotionless and what the law would call a depraved heart.”