Two brothers who crashed a wedding reception in 2019 and beat the groom to death in Chino were convicted in February of manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, prosecutors announced on Tuesday.
San Bernardino County prosecutors said Rony Castaneda, 31, and Josue Castaneda, 22, did not know the groom or his wife but lived nearby and likely decided to crash the couple’s reception after hearing the party unfold in a house in Chino on December. 14, 2019.
Earlier that day, 30-year-old Joe Melgoza and Esther were married. Their reception at the Chino house included a mariachi band, photo booth, bar, DJ, and dancing. Guests later told authorities that the brothers were socializing, dancing and taking pictures with female guests at the reception.
The brothers left the party at the end of the night, but later returned armed with baseball bats, prosecutors said.
“They stood behind a fence in the dark and made hostile statements to Melgoza for jumping over the fence to their side. Once Melgoza and his family jumped the fence, the brothers began beating them all with clubs and fists,” the prosecutors wrote in a press release.
A family member pulled a bat away from one of the brothers, who then ran to a nearby house. Melgoza, who was unarmed, followed them. Authorities later found him dead in the yard, suffering from blunt force trauma to the head. The bride’s brother was also injured in the attack, prosecutors said.
Snapchat, as well as a photo booth photo police found in Josue Castaneda’s pocket, showed the brothers with a woman attending the reception and helped link the men to the attack, authorities said. It is not clear what sparked the violence.
Lawyers for the two men were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday. The brothers are expected to be sentenced on March 13.
San Bernardino County Dist. Attention. Jason Anderson praised his colleagues’ “determination to seek justice for a family that endured such unimaginable grief in a time that should be filled with love and happiness.”
“While this sentencing can never undo the pain caused by the actions of two individuals,” he said, “I hope it brings some degree of closure to Joe Melgoza’s wife and loved ones.”