A man was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday after a jury convicted him of murder in the 2019 killing of a South Carolina college student.
Nathaniel Rowland, 27, was also found guilty of kidnapping and possession of a weapon during a violent crime in the killing of Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student.
The 21-year-old USC student had mistakenly gotten into a car Rowland was driving in Columbia, South Carolina, thinking it was an Uber ride she had requested on March 29, 2019, authorities said. Her body was found with multiple sharp force injuries 14 hours later in a field about 90 miles away.
Rowland was arrested the following day after police spotted him in a car that matched the description seen in surveillance video.
During the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Josephson’s family asked Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman to sentence Rowland to life in prison and expressed the pain they have had to endure.
“Words cannot express the anguish our family and friends have endured since you kidnapped and brutally murdered Samantha,” said Josephson’s mother, Marci Josephson.
Rowland also spoke and maintained his innocence.
“I know I’m innocent, but I guess what I know and what I think really doesn’t matter,” Rowland said. “I just wish the state would have done more in finding out who the actual person was instead of being satisfied with detaining me and proving my guilt.”
But the judge said there was an “avalanche of evidence” against Rowland.
Josephson’s blood was found in the car’s passenger side and the trunk, and her cell phone was in the passenger compartment, authorities said at the time of her killing.
“The evidence is so substantial in this case pointing to your guilt, and I emphasize it and reemphasize it because of the horrific and most brutal nature this crime. It could not be worse,” Newman said. “It’s the most severe murder that has occurred, that I have been a witness to as far as presiding in court or participate in as a lawyer. And for whomever asks me for leniency, that’s not part of my DNA.”
The defense had motioned for a new trial based on the “brevity” of the deliberations, but Newman denied the motion.
“Since you only have one life, that sentence must be served for the remaining days of your natural life,” Newman said.
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