Defense suggests race played role in identification of murder suspect

Nathan Knowles accused in 2017 shooting death of Michael Berlanga

SAN ANTONIO – During closing arguments Thursday in the murder trial of Nathan Knowles, 35, his lawyer criticized the police investigation into the slaying of Michael Berlanga and the testimony earlier this week from Robert Lopez, a state’s witness.

Defense attorney Dan Rodriguez said that Lopez’s identification of Knowles as the killer relied heavily on the fact that Knowles is an African-American.

“The investigation presented you just the flimsy testimony of one person saying the black man did it,” Rodriguez said in court.

He noted that though Lopez identified Knowles as the killer during his testimony, his identification during the police investigation was tentative.

Lopez testified that he initially said that Knowles “looked like” and could “possibly be” the killer.

Prosecutor Stacy Harrington argued that Lopez was initially being cautious in making an identification.

“Robert is being careful,” she said in court. “He’s not going, ‘This looks like the guy. Sure, let me just be done with this.’"

Closing arguments ended late Thursday morning and jury deliberations began.

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