A man is standing trial after he allegedly posed as an Uber driver to kidnap and kill a drunk student who was just trying to get home.
Nathaniel Rowland is standing trial for the alleged murder of South Carolina college student, Samantha Josephson after she mistakenly got in his car believing he was the driver she'd booked.
During opening statements, the prosecutors said the 21-year-old woman from New Jersey suffered "heinous, cruel and malicious acts" when she was killed in 2019.
The crime hit national headlines at the time, leading Uber to require all drivers to display IDs and check passengers' names before they travel.
According to the New York Post, jurors will be shown security video, phone records, and a murder weapon that allegedly connects 27-year-old Rowland to the death.
Prosecutor Byron Gipson reportedly told the court: "It’s those intentional deliberate, heinous, cruel and malicious acts that Nathaniel David Rowland has been indicted for kidnapping Samantha Josephson.
"He’s been indicted for murdering Samantha Josephson. And he’s been indicted for possession of a weapon from the commission of a violent crime.
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"And at the appropriate time, we’ll ask that you return verdicts on guilty on each one of those counts."
Defence lawyer, Tracy Pinnock has argued that Rowland was not connected to the killing through DNA evidence after Josephson’s body was found in a wooded area about 65 miles away from the alleged abduction.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to hear this number again, and that is zero," Pinnock said.
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"That’s the amount of DNA on Samantha Josephson’s body that matches Nathaniel Rowland. Zero. It’s not on her clothing. It’s not under her ripped and torn fingernails. It’s not on her ankles."
These statements made on Tuesday, July 20, came just a day after Rowland asked to replace Pinnock as he felt that she "wasn't fighting for me".
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The judge refused to pause the proceedings and Rowland later said he was satisfied with his representation, the Columbia Post and Courier reports.
Rowland has denied his charges, and his family has maintained his innocence.
If convicted, Rowland faces life in prison without parole.
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