South Carolina senior Samantha "Sami" Josephson, 21, of Robbinsville, NJ, ordered an Uber ride home after a night out in Downtown Columbia around 2 a.m. March 29, 2019.
Thinking Nathaniel Rowland's vehicle was her ride home, she hopped inside.
Instead of bringing Josephson back to her apartment, 27-year-old Rowland used childproof locks on his a black Chevrolet Impala to keep her from escaping, and stabbed her 120 times, prosecutors said.
Her body was found by turkey hunters in a field approximately 65 miles away from Downtown Columbia.
Rowland was arrested March 30 when police spotted him in a vehicle that matched the description captured on surveillance tapes. He was later convicted by a jury of murder.
“[Josephson] obviously put up an amazing fight against you and left a sufficient trail for the jury to see what you did," said the judge who sentenced Rowland Tuesday.
Rowland's attorneys argued that scientists weren't positive his DNA was on the knife, and said none of his DNA was found on Josephson's body. They also said he didn't have any visible signs of having been in a fight.
Rowland maintained his innocence during his sentencing and 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."
Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman, however, said the evidence speaks for itself.
Josephson's blood was found on Rowland's bandanna and sock, and on cleaning supplies in the garbage behind his ex-girlfriend's house, experts said.
"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," Newman said.
"It could not be worse," Newman said, according to CNN. "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."
A GoFundMe page remembering Josephson had garnered more than $83,000 as of July 28, 2021.
Josephson's mom, Marci, spoke after Rowland was sentenced.
"I close my eyes and I feel what she endured at his hands, 120 times, over and over and over, fighting for her life locked in his car," she said.
"I used to have dreams for her now all I have are nightmares 120 times. Her final moments were barefoot kicking and fighting for her life."
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