More than three years after a young couple’s wedding day turned into a nightmare, the men responsible are finally being held accountable.
As we reported at the time, back on December 14, 2019, Joe Melgoza and his wife, Esther, celebrated saying “I do” at a backyard reception after their Chino, California wedding ceremony. The party, held at a family member’s house, went on until the wee hours of the following morning, when brothers Rony and Josue Castaneda Ramirez, 31 and 22 respectively, arrived unannounced. Soon after, the celebration turned violent, and tragically, Joe was beaten to death, according to KTLA. Immediately after, the wedding crashers were arrested and an investigation was opened. Now, we finally have some firm answers.
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In a Tuesday press release, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office gave some more context as to what exactly went down that fateful night:
“Although the Castaneda brothers did not have any apparent connection to the wedding party, they lived nearby and likely heard the festivities and went to the reception, uninvited. At the reception, the brothers were seen socializing, dancing and taking photos with female guests. At the end of the wedding reception the brothers left, only to return unbeknownst to the victim and his family, armed with baseball bats.”
Oh no. They planned the attack and came back?? The statement continued:
“When the Castaneda brothers returned, they did so on a trail behind the house where the reception was held. Standing in the dark behind a fence they made antagonizing statements to Melgoza to jump over the fence to their side. Once Melgoza and his family jumped the fence, the brothers began hitting them all with bats and fists. A family member was able to pull a bat from one of the Castaneda brothers who ran into an unrelated residence. They were followed by Melgoza, who ran into the yard unarmed.”
Why, why did they take the bait? Oof.
“A few minutes later the Castaneda brothers were seen jumping the fence out of the unrelated residence with a single bat, which was never found. Chino Police Department was the initial responding agency to the incident, at first attending to an injured family member, and later discovered Melgoza deceased in the yard where the Castaneda brothers were last seen. The cause of death of Melgoza was blunt force trauma to the head, he died within minutes.”
CPD then began investigating the brothers, who denied being at the ceremony. However, according to the press release, when they were arrested, Josue was found with a “photobooth photo of both brothers with one of the female guests from the reception” in his front pocket. Apparently, Snapchat information also played a role in helping identify the brothers.
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On February 9, the brothers were found guilty of second degree murder, and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.
We can’t even begin to imagine how difficult this has all been for Joe’s loved ones he left behind, including his wife and daughter, Lilly, who is now being taken care of by his family, according to a GoFundMe. However, we hope this justice will help them all to begin the healing process.
What are your thoughts, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments down below.
[Images via Alice Alvarez/GoFundMe & Chino Police Department]