For years, Nathaniel Baria lived under the strict authority of a father who demanded that he receive only top grades in school.
Family members said B’s weren’t acceptable. His father also pushed him to excel at playing the piano, oboe and clarinet and once refused to speak to his son for two years because Baria didn’t live up to his expectations.
In May 2007, Baria snapped. Armed with a kitchen knife, he sneaked into his parents’ bedroom while they were sleeping and stabbed his father 11 times, authorities said.
His father, who suffered from heart problems, died about a month after the incident. The knife attack also left Baria’s mother and then-14-year-old sister wounded.
On Tuesday, District Judge Michael Villani sentenced Baria to spend six to 20 years in prison. Baria had earlier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon and attempted murder.
“This situation has caused misery to all sides,” Villani said.
Almost a dozen relatives crowded into Villani’s courtroom to support the 21-year-old Baria. They came from California, Chicago and the Philippines, where Baria’s 57-year-old father, Ambrocio Baria, was born and raised.
Several relatives had written letters urging the judge to be lenient.
“Nathaniel has become the victim of his (Ambrocio Baria’s) dominance,” said Marie Dejesus Baria of her son’s relationship with his father.
At the time of the attack, Baria was a freshman at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His mother said Baria won academic awards as a child but had failed two university courses because of the pressure from his father.
Ambrocio Baria was a talented musician and band leader in the Philippines when he was younger. He toured throughout Asia and, in his mid-30s, settled in Las Vegas to raise a family. Ambrocio Baria’s sister, Edith Panopio, wrote the judge a letter saying her brother worked as a pianist at the California Hotel.
“My brother imposed enormous demands and expectations on Nathan,” wrote Panopio, a family practice physician employed by the Illinois Department of Human Services. “However, instead of communicating with Nathan, he put into practice his rules and strict parental authority.”
Deputy District Attorney Marc Schifalacqua said he spoke with Baria’s family several dozen times about the case and was fully aware that, even though they lost a father and husband, that they didn’t want to lose Baria, too.
But Schifalacqua said the facts of the case were “brutal” and Baria shouldn’t be allowed to walk out of the courtroom a free man. He recommended Baria serve at least eight years in prison.
“I think mercy is important in anything we do,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think mercy should be able to rob justice.”
Authorities said on May 15, 2007, Baria was living at his parent’s home near Nellis Boulevard and Owens Avenue. He stabbed his father while his father slept and then wounded his mother and teenage sister, who were both trying to stop the attack, said Baria’s attorney, Michael Schwarz.
The mother and sister rushed to the hospital for treatment but Ambrocio Baria remained at the house with his son. Relatives said Ambrocio Baria stayed at home because he didn’t want police involved.
Schwarz said Ambrocio Baria had open heart surgery while recovering from his stab wounds and died about 30 days later. Schwarz said it appeared the victim died from pre-existing health problems, not the stabbing attack.
The Clark County coroner’s office reported on Tuesday that Ambrocio Baria died from hypertension and arteriosclerotic vascular disease, which is often referred to as hardening of the arteries.
The coroner’s office, however, ruled his death a homicide.
During the hearing, Baria apologized to his family for the slaying. He said he never felt animosity toward his father.
When the two were on good terms, the younger Baria said they would have lively intellectual conversations.
“If I could reverse the flow of time, I would take it all back,” he said.
Villani, however, questioned Baria’s statements.
“You mentioned that you didn’t have any animosity toward your father. But you stabbed him 11 times,” Villani said. “That’s quite a bit of animosity in that particular moment.”
Contact reporter David Kihara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.