Burning car key evidence that led to arrest of accused killer, according to prosecutors

Nathan Knowles, 35, accused of killing Michael Berlanga

By Paul Venema - Reporter, Misael Gomez - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A burning car was the key to the arrest of an accused killer, according to prosecutors in the murder trial of Nathan Knowles.

It was almost a month before San Antonio Police Department detectives arrested Knowles, 35, for the murder of Michael Berlanga, who was shot to death on the night of October 7, 2017, outside what police believe was a drug house.

The men argued and then began trading blows, according to witnesses.

“The defendant (Knowles) walks over to his car, reaches in the passenger side, pulls out a gun and points it at the victim, who is running away,” prosecutor Stacy Harrington said as the trial began Monday.

“He fires three to four shots, and one of them strikes the victim in the head,” she said.

A car fire that followed the shooting that night would eventually give police their first big break in the case.

“Because of the fire, we were able to track down who exactly the car belonged to, which happened to be the girlfriend of the defendant,” Harrington said.

Testimony will resume Tuesday in 437th District Court with Senior Judge Raymond Angelini presiding.

If he is convicted, Knowles faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.

Copyright 2019 by KSAT - All rights reserved.