Prosecutors attempt to piece together Rowland’s movements night of UofSC student’s killing

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — The state called various witnesses to the stand Friday during the trial of a man accused of kidnapping and murdering a University of South Carolina student in 2019.

Some of those witnesses testified as experts in cell phone tracking, blood, prints and DNA.

Cell phone data shows Nathaniel Rowland’s suspected movements

One former South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent testified as an expert in tracking cell phone data. The former agent said phones belonging to Rowland and Samantha Josephson were connected to the same cell tower in the Columbia area. Using this data, he says both phones could be located in the Five Points district the night she was kidnapped.

The former agent testified the time was around 2:00 a.m. Surveillance video outside of the bar Josephson was at shows her walking into a black Chevy Impala. Prosecutors say this is Rowland’s car.

According to the former agent, both phones were pinged headed east out of the Five Points district. At one point, Josephson’s phone loses signal and does not connect to another cell phone tower until later that morning on Monticello Road in Columbia, according to testimony in court.

Rowland’s phone is tracked east to Clarendon County, the expert testified. Prosecutors said this shows Rowland was in the general area where Josephson’s body was found in New Zion.

Later that morning, Rowland’s phone is tracked headed west towards Sumter and Columbia. Prosecutors said surveillance video obtained from two ATMs shows a black male attempting to withdraw money using Josephson’s debit card around the time Rowland’s phone is pinged in those areas. According to the video shown in court, the man covers his face. The defense argues there is no way to know that is for sure Rowland. They also pointed out to the jury that the tracking data from the cell towers cannot pinpoint exact locations.

‘Very strong support’ DNA found on blade of multi-tool is Josephson’s

Friday afternoon, a SLED forensic scientist took the stand. She testified in court that there was “very strong support” Josephson’s DNA was found on the blade of a multi-tool collected as evidence. The multi-tool was found in the trash can outside of the home of a woman Rowland was allegedly dating in 2019.

There was also “weak” support of Rowland’s DNA found on the multi-tool. The state alleges this is the murder weapon used to stab Josephson more than 100 times.

The blade had blood and hair on it, investigators said. According to the testimony, there was “very strong support” that was Josephson’s hair. The scientist also said there was “very strong support” blood in Rowland’s car contained Josephson’s DNA.

During her testimony, the scientist said Josephson’s DNA was found under Rowland’s fingernails.

Under Josephson’s fingernails, the DNA of unidentified males was found. The defense said Rowland did not murder Josephson because none of his DNA was ever found on her.

Attorney’s representing Rowland also questioned the scientist on DNA samples that were never identified. The scientist told the juror there was DNA of a third unidentified person on Rowland’s steering wheel and gear shift.

The trial resumes Monday morning at 6:30.

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