Two brothers have been convicted of murder and assault after they attacked the groom and relatives at a wedding reception in Chino in 2019.
Rony and Josue Castaneda, 31 and 22, respectively, will be sentenced in about two weeks for second-degree murder in the death of Joe Melgoza and assault with a deadly weapon for injuring Juan Bustamonte, the bride’s brother, with baseball bats, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
In the early hours of Dec. 15, 2019, hours after Joe and Esther Melgoza were married, the Castaneda brothers entered the wedding reception at a family residence.
The brothers, who lived near the reception in the 13200 block of 17th Street, showed up uninvited and were seen “socializing, dancing and taking photos with female guests,” the release said.
When the reception ended, the Castanedas left, then returned via a trail behind the house, where they waited in darkness with baseball bats.
They then provoked Melgoza to jump over the fence, and once the groom and his family did, they were all struck with the bats and fists.
After a relative was able to disarm one of the Castaneda brothers, they ran to a nearby home with an unarmed Melgoza in pursuit.
A few minutes later, the brothers were seen leaving that house with a bat, while Melgoza was later discovered dead in the yard due to blunt-force trauma to the head. He was 30 years old.
Josue Castaneda denied attending the reception, but in his front pocket, police found a photo of the brothers and a female wedding guest taken at the reception’s photo booth. Snapchat information also tied the Castanedas to the reception, according to the Chino Police Department.
“I commend my colleagues’ dedication to this case and determination to seek justice for a family who endured such unimaginable grief during a time that should be filled love and happiness,” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “Although this conviction can never undo the pain caused by two individuals’ actions, I hope it brings a measure of closure to the wife and loved ones of Joe Melgoza.”
Both defendants are set to be sentenced on March 13 at 8:30 a.m. at Rancho Cucamonga Superior Courthouse.