Man accused of murder gets 10-year sentence on plea deal after two erroneous trials
San Antonio – After two mistrials, Nathan Knowles, the suspect accused of murdering Michael Berlanga in Northern Zarzamora in 2017, agreed not to contest the lesser charge of manslaughter in court on Tuesday. The dispute between the two men had escalated, resulting in a fatal shot from Knowles. In July 2019, the first trial for the murder ensued, but it ended in a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. Further, in January 2020, Knowles was retried, but due to an evidence problem, the second trial also ended in an error. The accused chose a plea bargain, and as a result, the victim’s family would finally have what they had awaited for the last five years.
While the counsel for the suspect requested a four-year sentence, the judge, Joel Perez, sentenced Knowles to ten years in prison, since the courts in these cases are always stricter than anywhere else. During the hearing, Berlanga’s mother, wife, and son were witnesses who spoke about and remembered him as a good man who was an asset to his family. The family was emotional and stated that no sentence would be enough justice for their loss. Michael Berlanga Jr. said, “No matter what the verdict is, it won’t be what we’re looking for,” while Merna Berlanga said, “We will worry about this for the rest of our lives. We should have grown old together.”
District Attorney Joe Gonzalez appreciated the case’s complexity as exhibited by the two previous mistrials. Nevertheless, he mentioned that he was glad that they had been able to close the victim’s family and that the defendant was held accountable and punished for his actions on that fateful day. Additionally, the District Attorney’s office released a statement following the case, emphasizing the importance of this case’s conclusion, considering the numerous hurdles faced.
The murder case was complicated, and the two mistrials underscored its significance. However, the victim’s family members, who mourned the brutal loss for five years, have secured justice. Finally, Nathan Knowles has been held accountable for his actions, and the family members can now have peace of mind.
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