After being convicted of murdering former University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, Nathaniel Rowland will spend at life in prison.
Since prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, a separate hearing to determine sentencing is not necessary. Judge Clifton Newman passed down the sentence after hearing from prosecutors, defense attorneys and the families of both Rowland and Josephson.
“Her death was my death. I close my eyes and feel what she endured at his hands,” Josephson’s mother Marci read from a prepared statement. “I used to have dreams for her. Now all I have are nightmares. 120 times. Her bare feet kicking the windows. I visualize the blood flowing from her body, her beautiful body. 120 times. For what?”
Marci Josephson was referencing the roughly 120 times Rowland stabbed Josephson. Josephson’s mother, sister and father all asked Rowland receive the most severe possible sentence.
“I have visions of her taking her last breath. I have such hatred running through me. I still to this day cannot believe she is gone,” said Seymour Josephson, Samantha’s father.
In his comments, Seymour Josephson said his daughter’s murder had been so devastating that he cannot bear to look at photos nor videos of his daughter. Multiple times since her murder, he has considered suicide, he said.
“In the end you have taken my baby away,” Seymour Josephson said to Rowland. “I will never see her graduate from college, law school, walk her down the aisle and get married… all the milestones one would experience.
“What did you get from Sam? $10? $20?”
Seymour Josephson held up a book of 90 impact statements from Samantha Josephson’s friends, family friends and more about what her death meant to them. Seymour Josephson asked Newman to read the book and Newman said he would like to.
Rowland’s mother Loretta Rowland also spoke, saying her son was a good person.
“A mother knows her child, and I know my son didn’t do this,” Rowland said.
After families spoke, Newman looked Rowland in the eyes and described him as “cold-blooded.”
“During my time on the bench I have presided over many murder trials and they typically involve shootings,” Newman said. “This is the first time, however, that I presided over a case where a victim was stabbed 120 times.”
When Newman gave Rowland a chance to speak at the end of the trial, Rowland spoke in a voice that was hard to hear. Rowland said he wished investigators had looked into other suspects.
“I know I’m innocent, but I guess what I know or I think really doesn’t matter,” Rowland 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.”
Newman wasn’t having it.
As Newman had indicated earlier in the trial, the evidence against Rowland was “overwhelming.” Even when Rowland’s family members asked the judge for mercy, saying Rowland was innocent, Newman cut them off, saying the jury had made its ruling.
When Rowland faced the judge for sentencing, Newman was stern, saying it was not difficult to decide on his sentence.
“There were 1,000 roads, each led to you. There were 1,000 trails, each trail led to you. All the evidence, every speck of evidence, not simply beyond a reasonable doubt, but as high a standard of guilt the law presents at all levels” points to you, Newman said to Rowland.