SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (TCD) -- A 31-year-old man and his 22-year-old brother were convicted of killing a man in December 2019 as he celebrated his wedding.
In a statement, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced a jury found Rony Castaneda and Josue Castaneda guilty of second-degree murder on Feb. 9 for the death of Joe Melgoza. The two brothers were also convicted of assault with a deadly weapon for wounding Juan Bustamonte, Melgoza’s brother-in-law.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Joe and Esther Melgoza tied the knot Dec. 14, 2019, and the newlyweds had a reception at a family member’s home with a DJ, photo booth, bar, dance floor, and mariachi band.
The Castaneda brothers reportedly "did not have any apparent connection to the wedding party," but they lived close by and crashed the reception. Witnesses reportedly saw them dancing with female guests and taking pictures with them in the photo booth. Then, at the end of the evening, Josue and Rony Castaneda left and returned "armed with baseball bats."
The District Attorney’s Office said the brothers snuck back via a trail behind the house and "made antagonizing statements to Melgoza to jump over the fence to their side."
Melgoza and other family members went over the fence, and Josue and Rony Castaneda hit them with the bats and their fists. One of Melgoza’s relatives grabbed a bat, and the brothers fled to an "unrelated residence."
Melgoza followed them, and moments later, the brothers were seen jumping over a fence. Melgoza was found fatally wounded in the unrelated residence’s yard.
In the early hours of Dec. 15, Chino Police Department officers were called to the 13300 block of Oaks Avenue for a fight and found a male suffering blunt force trauma to his dead. Melgoza was transported to Chino Valley Medical Center, where he died.
According to the statement, Josue Castaneda argued he was not at the wedding, but detectives found a picture from the photo booth in his front pocket.
Josue and Rony Castaneda will be sentenced March 13.