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Trial Begins in Case of Student Who Mistook Man for Uber Driver

Samantha Josephson suffered 'heinous, cruel, and malicious acts,' prosecutors say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2021 2:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The man whom Samantha Josephson mistook for her Uber driver carried out "heinous, cruel and malicious acts" on the 21-year-old after she got into his car in 2019, prosecutors told jurors as the suspect's murder trial opened Tuesday. Authorities say Nathaniel David Rowland had his eyes on Josephson, who was months away from graduating from the University of South Carolina, as she exited an establishment in an entertainment district, alone, and hailed an Uber, NBC News reports. She had been out with friends, celebrating their near-graduation, at the time. The actual Uber driver Josephson ordered testified Tuesday that he circled the area and ultimately canceled the ride after having not found her. Josephson's boyfriend also testified about watching her phone's location move away from her apartment on an app the two shared.

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He then described the growing dread as she failed to answer calls and texts, the State reports. Prosecutors said Rowland activated the car's child locks after Josephson got in, so she was unable to unlock the doors. Her blood, hair, fingerprints, and cellphone were allegedly found in the car, and her body was found in woods 65 miles away with more than 100 stab wounds, the Post and Courier reports. Bloody clothes, cleaning products, and a weapon consistent with the murder weapon were found in a trash can behind the home of a friend Rowland picked up for work hours after Josephson's abduction. But the defense said Tuesday that no DNA evidence links Rowland to the crime, and that there were no cuts or scratches on Rowland when he was arrested later that same day, despite defensive wounds indicating Josephson fought back. If convicted, Rowland faces up to life in prison without parole. WIS-TV has video of the trial. (Read more Samantha Josephson stories.)

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