Two expert witnesses testified late Thursday and Friday morning about tracking data regarding the phone of Nathaniel Rowland, who has been charged with murdering a former University of South Carolina student.
Friday morning, State Law Enforcement Division investigator Eric Grabsky testified that data obtained from Verizon showed Rowland’s phone traveling from the Five Points area shortly after Samantha Josephson went missing and driving near the location where Josephson’s body was found hours later.
“The phone associated with Nathaniel Rowland does appear to travel toward the New Zion area,” Grabsky testified Friday. New Zion is the location in which Josephson’s body was found.
While the data Grabsky analyzed — data that shows the distance and general direction from cell towers — is reliable, it is not precise, Grabsky testified. For example, cell phone tower data can reveal if a phone is in a general area, but would not be able to pinpoint a phone on a specific street corner, Grabsky said.
After being cross-examined by defense attorney Alicia Goode, Grabsky said the data tracks the locations of cell phones, but the analysis cannot prove that a given person went to a certain location.
At roughly 2 a.m., Rowland’s phone was in the Five Points area. From roughly 2:30 to roughly 4:45 a.m. on March 29, 2019, Rowland’s phone was headed east of Columbia toward New Zion, Grabsky testified. At roughly 5:45 a.m. Rowland’s phone was in Sumter. That’s around the same time surveillance video showed a man unsuccessfully trying to withdraw money from Josephson’s account at an ATM in Sumter.
After that, Rowland’s phone continues traveling back to Columbia. Rowland’s phone is recorded in Columbia at roughly 6:30 a.m., which is also around the same time a man unsuccessfully tried, for the second time, to access Josephson’s bank account at a Columbia ATM.
Since Josephson’s phone was turned off shortly after she got into a car she mistakenly thought was her Uber, the phone did not transmit location data to Verizon, Grabsky said.
A witness who testified Thursday afternoon also shed light on what happened on the night that Josephson went missing and was eventually killed.
GPS data on Josephson’s phone showed her leaving the Five Points area early in the morning of March 29 and heading toward the Rosewood neighborhood before the GPS trail went cold, according to the testimony of Britt Dove, a SLED agent who specializes in computer crimes.
While GPS data aren’t perfect, an analysis of GPS data “puts you in the area within less than a mile,” Dove testified.
This backs up Josephson’s boyfriend Greg Corbishley, who testified earlier this week He had been virtually watching Josephson leave Five Points through a smart phone app that allows friends to track one another’s location, he testified Tuesday. Corbishley also testified the last transmitted location of Josephson’s phone was in the Rosewood area.
Josephson’s phone came back on at 8:46 a.m. where it then travels to Monticello Avenue, Dove said. Monticello Avenue is also the location in which a phone repair company owner testified Rowland tried unsuccessfully to sell Josephson’s phone.