Accused Wedding Killers Lived Just Down the Street

Joe Steven Melgoza was killed at his own wedding
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2019 4:09 PM CST

(Newser) – Two wedding crashers accused of killing a groom have been arrested—but their motive? It's not necessarily clear. Rony Castaneda Ramirez, 28, and his brother, Josue Castaneda Ramirez, 19, were arrested Sunday in Chino, Calif., and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon, KABC reports. Witnesses say the pair wanted free alcohol at the reception and got physical when asked to leave. They allegedly returned with baseball bats and beat the groom, 30-year-old Joe Steven Melgoza, to within an inch of his life. He later died at a hospital. Police found the Ramirez brothers living just a few doors away from the reception, which was held at the home of the bride, Esther Melgoza.

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Esther's family tells CBS Los Angeles that no one involved in the wedding knew the Ramirez brothers. Esther, who has an 11-year-old daughter from an earlier relationship, went ahead with her nursing test Tuesday because, she said, her husband had urged her to fulfill her dream. "Today I passed my first semester," said Esther. "I know he wanted me to pass because he worked so hard." The family gathered for a prayer service at the home on Tuesday, battling grief and tears, but also wanting action: "We want justice for my brother and I hope these two individuals never see the light of day," said Melgoza's brother. A cousin set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs. The Ramirez brothers pleaded not guilty Tuesday and are due back in court Dec. 24. (Read more murder stories.)

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