Wedding Crashers Found Guilty of Killing Groom

Brothers Rony and Josue Castaneda convicted for beating Joe Melgoza to death in California in 2019
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2019 4:09 PM CST
Updated Mar 3, 2023 10:37 AM CST
Accused Wedding Killers Lived Just Down the Street
Rony Castaneda Ramirez, left, and Josue Castaneda Ramirez are seen in photos released on Dec. 16, 2019, by the Chino Police Department.   (Chino Police Department)
UPDATE Mar 3, 2023 10:37 AM CST

Two men accused of killing a groom at his California wedding reception have been convicted of second-degree murder. Rony Castaneda, 31, and his 22-year-old brother, Josue Castaneda, were found guilty on Feb. 9, per a San Bernardino County DA's release from late last month. The release notes that the brothers, who lived nearby, showed up uninvited to the Chino celebration for Joe Melgoza and his bride, Esther, after they were married on Dec. 14, 2019. NBC News notes the Castenadas were asked to leave, but they returned with baseball bats, after which an altercation ensued in which Melgoza was beaten to death. Josue Castenada initially denied to cops he and his sibling were at the party, but a photo booth pic of them and a female wedding guest was found in his pocket. The brothers were also found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon for attacking the brother of Melgoza's wife.

Dec 18, 2019 4:09 PM CST

Two wedding crashers accused of killing a groom have been arrested—but their motive? It's not necessarily clear. Rony Castaneda Ramirez, 28, and his brother, Josue Castaneda Ramirez, 19, were arrested Sunday in Chino, Calif., and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon, KABC reports. Witnesses say the pair wanted free alcohol at the reception and got physical when asked to leave. They allegedly returned with baseball bats and beat the groom, 30-year-old Joe Steven Melgoza, to within an inch of his life. He later died at a hospital. Police found the Ramirez brothers living just a few doors away from the reception, which was held at the home of the bride, Esther Melgoza.

Esther's family tells CBS Los Angeles that no one in the wedding knew the Ramirez brothers. Esther, who has an 11-year-old daughter from an earlier relationship, went ahead with her nursing test Tuesday because, she said, her husband had urged her to fulfill her dream. "Today I passed my first semester," said Esther. "I know he wanted me to pass because he worked so hard." The family gathered for a prayer service at the home on Tuesday, battling grief and tears, but also wanting action: "We want justice for my brother and I hope these two individuals never see the light of day," said Melgoza's brother. A cousin set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs. The Ramirez brothers pleaded not guilty Tuesday and are due back in court Dec. 24. (More murder stories.)

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