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Rowland Trial Day 2: Suspect’s ex-girlfriend says she saw him scrubbing car with bleach

From left: Nathaniel Rowland and Samantha Josephson
From left: Nathaniel Rowland and Samantha Josephson(WRDW)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 9:09 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 21, 2021 at 7:36 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The trial of Nathaniel Rowland, the man accused of kidnapping and killing University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson in March 2019, began Tuesday.

Wednesday, several more witnesses took the stand. Here’s a full recount of what happened.

Watch the morning court session in the video below.

The first witness was the turkey hunter who found Samantha Josephson’s body in Clarendon County, just hours after she was reported missing.

He told the court he didn’t touch her body, but instead called an agent with the Department of Natural Resources who lived nearby.

CASE BACKGROUND | Trial of man accused in UofSC student’s kidnapping, death set to begin

That DNR agent, named Hendley Morris, testified that he came out and secured the scene for the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Department. He also said he didn’t touch the victim.

LAW ENFORCEMENT TESTIFIES

The first Clarendon County deputy who arrived testified. Thomas Huckabee said he looked at the body and he contacted SLED because he knew this was a multi-county investigation. Then he said he went to his sheriff and told him he thought it was the body of Samantha Josephson.

Then Columbia Police Department Officer Jeffrey Kraft took the stand and testified about the night he pulled Nathaniel Rowland over for making an illegal turn.

Kraft testified he asked Rowland to get out of the car, and his dash cam showed Rowland running on foot. Kraft also showed video from his body camera.

The officer said he lost sight of Rowland on Waccamaw Avenue. Kraft said he went back to the car and noticed a large amount of blood, so he notified his crime scene investigators.

Another officer, named Justin Niscia, testified he intercepted the foot chase and was able to arrest Rowland. His body cam video showed him handcuffing Rowland.

ROWLAND’S EX-GIRLFRIEND TAKES THE STAND

Maria Howard took the stand as the 16th witness after the court reconvened in the afternoon.

She was the former girlfriend of Rowland.

Watch the entire afternoon of trial testimony in the video below.

Howard said Rowland was supposed to come home the night of Josephson’s abduction, but he didn’t. She said when he finally returned, she asked where her work visor was and Rowland said, “In the country with blood on it.”

When Howard asked why it had blood on it, she said Rowland said, “Mind your own business.”

Howard said Rowland took her to work and on the way they stopped to get gas.

At the gas station, Howard said she noticed blood all over in the car. She said she asked him where the blood was from and he said, “Mind your own business.”

Howard said when she got home from work that day she noticed Rowland cleaning the Impala with bleach. Again he told her to, “Mind your own business,” she said.

Howard testified she also saw Rowland cleaning a knife the state claims was the murder weapon.

She also testified she saw a rose gold cell phone in a compartment which the state says is Josephson’s cell phone.

Howard also said she had to pick up her daughter in the Impala and her daughter got blood on her shoe. Howars testified she threw those shoes in the closet.

Howard said she didn’t tell police about the blood in the car at first because she was tired and scared, but then later told police the truth.

SLED INVESTIGATOR PRESENTS PHYSICAL EVIDENCE

An agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Todd Shank, took the stand next. 

Shank testified there was blood spatter in Rowland’s car on the passenger front headrest, the back ceiling, the back seat driver’s side door, and on the back seat console.

He also said there was a visor in the trunk with blood.

He showed the court slide flip flops that belonged to Rowland that were also in the car.

Shank said the child restraint lock had been activated by a button on the driver’s side door. It activated both the windows and doors in the back, according to Shank.

He also said there were footprints on the inside of the car windows that belonged to the victim.

Court adjourned for the day after his testimony concluded. It will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE
LIVE TRIAL COVERAGE

Each day, look for a new story with the live stream of the trial on wistv.com or the WIS News app. Coverage will be updated throughout the day each day, until a verdict is reached.

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