A San Bernardino County Superior Court jury has found two brothers guilty of killing a man at his 2019 wedding reception in Chino.
Joe Melgoza’s widow said she wants justice for her husband’s murder, adding that she continues to love and miss him.
“I hope they know they destroyed our lives — they killed a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and an honest, good man,” Esther Melgoza said.
The 30-year-old also left behind a daughter who was 11 when her dad was killed.
The two brothers, Rony Castenada, and Josue Castenada, arrived at the party uninvited on Dec. 14, 2019, authorities said. They lived near the home where the reception took place and might have heard the festivities that included a mariachi band, a photo booth, a bar, a disc jockey and a place set up for dancing.
The brothers danced and took photos with guests. When the reception drew to a close, authorities said, they left but returned with baseball bats. At the time, Rony Castaneda was 28 years old and his brother was 19.
At the reception, the brothers socialized, danced and took 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, coming back on a trail behind the house at about 2 a.m., authorities said, and egged on the victim to jump over to their side of the fence.
After the victim and others did, the brothers, having concealed the bats, authorities said, began striking them all with the bats and their fists.
The Castanedas fled, with one bat, the other having been taken away, and were trailed by Melgoza into a yard, authorities said.
Police found Melgoza, dead, in a backyard of a nearby home, with blunt-force trauma to his head. The second bat was never found.
Police served a search warrant and arrested the brothers after Snapchat information helped police identify the suspects, the District Attorney’s Office said.
Josue Castaneda said he hadn’t been at the reception — but when arrested, police found a photo-booth picture of the two brothers with a female guest from the reception in his front pocket, authorities said.
On Feb. 9, the brothers were convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, for hurting the bride’s brother, and second-degree murder. They were scheduled to be sentenced on March 13 at the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Courthouse.
“Although this conviction can never undo the pain caused by two individuals’ actions, I hope it brings a measure of closure to the wife and loved ones of Joe Melgoza,” San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said in a statement.