A San Bernardino jury convicted brothers Rony and Josue Castaneda of second-degree murder on Feb. 9 for beating Joe Melgoza to death on Dec. 14, 2019 at his own wedding.
Melgoza had only been married for a few hours when Rony and Josue showed up to his wedding uninvited. They made themselves comfortable at the Chino, California wedding reception, left for a short time, then returned to taunt the groom and his family. Eventually they beat them with baseball bats, according to a release issued by the District Attorney. The police responded to calls that someone was hurt and later discovered Melgoza’s body. The groom reportedly died “within minutes” from blunt force trauma to the head, according to the District Attorney.
On 2/9/23, a jury found brothers Rony and Josue Castaneda guilty of 2nd degree murder for the death of Joe Melgoza, a groom at his wedding reception in Chino, California. See below for full news release & sentencing dates. https://t.co/lUo4VXsstL pic.twitter.com/Z2GWTeLppn
— San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office (@sbcountyda) March 1, 2023
31-year-old Rony Castaneda and 22-year-old Josue Castaneda, were also found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon for injuries to Melgoza’s brother, Juan Bustamonte.
The tragedy reportedly unfolded during Melgoza’s wedding reception.
“They lived nearby and likely heard the festivities and went to the reception,” said a representative from the District Attorney’s office. The Castaneda brothers were later seen dancing and snapping photos with female guests at the party, according to the release.
They left the party but reappeared from a trail behind the home, catching the partygoers off-guard.
The District Attorney’s office believes the Castaneda brothers stood behind a fence and taunted Melgoza to jump to the other side.
“Once Melgoza and his family jumped the fence, the brothers began hitting them all with bats and fists,” they said.
“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,” they said. (RELATED: Groom Aggressively Tackles Bride With Cake And The Internet Is Outraged)
The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office announced brothers Rony and Josue Castaneda were found guilty of second-degree murder in the gruesome 2019 beating death of Joe Melgoza on his wedding night in Chino. https://t.co/3l4nKKRD3S
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@FOXLA) February 28, 2023
Josue reportedly told police he was never in attendance at the reception. However, a photobooth image of him and Rony posing with a female guest was recovered from his pocket during his arrest, according to People.
Local authorities indicated they collected evidence from Snapchat during their investigation.
“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 individual’s actions, I hope it brings a measure of closure to the wife and loved ones of Joe Melgoza,” Anderson said.
The Castaneda brothers are scheduled for a hearing on March 13.
Melgoza is survived by his wife and his daughter Lilly, according to People.