After two mistrials, man once charged with murder gets 10-year sentence in plea deal

Nathan Knowles takes plea deal on lesser charge of manslaughter

SAN ANTONIO – A five-year-old murder case that has had two mistrials has ended with a plea deal.

Nathan Knowles was previously charged with the 2017 murder of Michael Berlanga.

An argument between the men escalated in the 1600 block of North Zarzamora and ended with an unarmed Berlanga being fatally shot.

In July 2019, Knowles went to trial but a mistrial was declared after the jury was deadlocked.

In Jan. 2020, a retrial began but also ended in a mistrial due to an issue with evidence.

In court on Tuesday, Knowles agreed to plead no contest to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

His attorney asked the judge to consider a four-year sentence, but 437th District Court Joel Perez gave him a 10-year prison sentence.

Berlanga’s mother, wife and son took the witness stand during the hearing to talk about how life has been since his murder.

All three were emotional and remembered him as being a good man who took care of his family.

“We’re going to be affected about this for the rest of our lives,” Merna Berlanga said. “We were supposed to grow old together.”

The family while relieved the case is closed, said no sentence would be justice.

“No matter what sentence is given it’s not going to be what we are looking for,” Michael Berlanga Jr. said.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales released the following statement regarding the case.

“This was a difficult case as evidenced by two prior mistrials. However, I am glad we were able to bring the victim’s family some closure and ensure that the defendant was held responsible and received punishment for his actions on that fateful day.”


Mistrial declared in Nathan Knowles murder trial

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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