The man accused of kidnapping and killing University of South Carolina senior Samantha Josephson in 2019 had blood in his car the day after the murder and told his then-girlfriend it was none of her business how it got there.
Maria Howard testified Wednesday in the trial of Nathaniel Rowland, who has been charged with Josephson’s death. Howard told the court she saw blood on Rowland’s back set and dashboard and that blood got onto her daughter’s shoes when Howard drover the girl to a doctor’s appointment in Rowland’s car, the Post & Courier reported.
Rowland’s trial got underway on Tuesday with opening statements in which prosecutors said the 21-year-old Josephson’s body had dozens of stab wounds, scratches, and other injuries when turkey hunters stumbled across the remains some 70 miles from the Columbia bar where she had been before vanishing hours earlier.
Josephson had been out with friends on March 28, 2019, to celebrate her upcoming college graduation, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Her boyfriend, Charleston resident Greg Corbishley, testified on Tuesday that he’d spoken with her several times that day and encouraged her to “go out and have fun that night,” even though she was upset about a family member’s medical condition.
“I told her to get her mind off of it, to go out with her friends, that she just worked so hard, got into law school, that she deserved to have a night to celebrate that,” Corbishley said.
Early Friday morning, Josephson left The Bird Dog bar and waited outside for the Uber she’d called to take her home. But surveillance footage showed Josephson getting into the wrong vehicle — her actual Uber driver arrived after she left and eventually cancelled the ride because she wasn’t there.
Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson told the jury in his opening statement on Tuesday that Nathaniel Rowland was driving the black 2017 Chevrolet Impala that took her away from the bar, that he circled the location several times before stopping, and that he committed “intentional, deliberate, heinous, cruel, and malicious acts” before dumping her body just two miles from his family home.
He cited cell phone data that put Rowland and Josephson together until Josephson’s phone was shut down, and Rowland’s phone leaving Columbia and driving to New Zion, 70 miles away, where his family lived.
Gipson said investigators found bloody clothes and cleaning products — along with a blade consistent with Josephson’s wounds — in a bin behind the home of a friend he was picking up for work the next morning. That friend was Howard.
Howard testified on Wednesday that she had jokingly asked Rowland if he’d hit a dog and put in the back seat, but he wouldn’t answer. And when she asked about her McDonald’s visor, which had been in the back window of his car, he told her he threw it out because it had gotten blood on it.
After his arrest, investigators found blood and bleach bottles in his car, and it had a strong chemical smell. They also found the McDonald’s visor in the trunk.
Prosecutors also played video of the traffic stop back in Columbia when police arrested Rowland the next day. After admitting he’d been smoking marijuana, Rowland ran from the police officer who’d pulled him over. Other officers ran him down and handcuffed him a few blocks away.
Defense attorney Alicia Goode has not challenged many of the prosecution witnesses so far. In her opening statement on Tuesday, she simply said that there is no firm evidence that Rowland is guilty. Goode noted that Josephson fought her attacker, scratching and clawing, and yet Rowland’s DNA wasn’t found beneath her fingernails or on her body. And, she said, investigators’ photographs of Rowland’s body, made within 24 hours of his arrest, showed no marks that would have been consistent with Josephson fighting him.
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[Featured image: Samantha Josephson/Columbia Police Department]