Two Brothers Were Found Guilty For 2019 Murder Of California Man On His Wedding Day
In December 2019, Joe Melgoza was celebrating his wedding day when he was beaten to death by two uninvited guests.
Joe Melgoza surely had high hopes for Dec. 14, 2019. He got married that day, and he was celebrating with his new bride, Esther Melgoza, at a family home where they had their reception in Chino, which is approximately 35 miles east of Los Angeles. The festivities included a photo booth, mariachi band, bar, and dance floor with a DJ playing music.
The day ended in tragedy, though. Joe was killed hours after his wedding when he was attacked at the reception. Now two uninvited guests have been convicted for the grisly murder.
On Feb. 9, 2023, brothers Rony Castaneda, 31, and Josue Castaneda, 22, were each convicted of second-degree murder for beating Melgoza to death at his wedding reception. According to a press release from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, the brothers were also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for injuries they inflicted on Juan Bustamonte, the bride’s brother.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson stated, "Although this conviction can never undo the pain caused by two individuals's actions, I hope it brings a measure of closure to the wife and loved ones of Joe Melgoza."
The perplexing crime started when the Casteneda brothers arrived at the reception. Although they had no apparent connection with the bride or groom, the sheriff’s office determined that they likely heard the revelry and stopped by uninvited. They partied, taking photos with female guests, dancing, and socializing with others at the wedding reception.
The Castaneda brothers left and returned later with baseball bats. They stayed on a trail behind the house when they came back and taunted the groom from behind a spot in the dark behind the fence. Melgoza and some other family members jumped over the fence, then the brothers began beating them with the baseball bats and their fists.
According to USA Today, a family member wrestled the bat from one of the brothers who ran to a nearby unrelated residence. An unarmed Melgoza followed them, and the brothers were seen jumping the fence of the other residence with a single baseball bat in their hands which has never been recovered.
Police officers from the Chino Police Department arrived at the scene and treated an injured family member before discovering Joe Melgoza in the yard where the Castaneda brothers were last seen. NBC News reported that he was taken to the hospital but was dead from blunt force trauma to the head.
The Castaneda brothers are expected to be sentenced on March 14.