A pair of wedding crashers accused of brutally beating a groom just hours after he traded vows with his bride in southern California have been charged with his murder.
Rony Aristides Castaneda Ramirez, 28, and his 19-year-old brother Josue Daniel Castaneda Ramirez, were arrested and booked into West Valley Detention Center for allegedly killing Joe Melgoza after his Sunday wedding in Chino.
The duo, who are each facing a murder charge and two counts of assault, have pleaded not guilty in the case, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, which filed the criminal complaint on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old newlywed, also a father of one, was found in the backyard of a residential party venue in San Bernardino County shortly after marrying the love of his life, Esther Bustamante. He was rushed to Chino Valley Medical Center, but he did not recover from his injuries.
In a press release earlier this week, police said he suffered from blunt force trauma to the head without going into further details.
Andy Velasquez, one of the groom’s brothers, said the pair of suspects had not been invited to the wedding. When they tried to crash the event, they were asked to leave.
“Those cowards came back with bats. They were in the alley and it was dark. They couldn’t see. They couldn’t see,” he told KNBC.
“They jumped the fence and they started hitting them with bats. My brother tried to get them. They pulled him into the house, and they killed him.”
When authorities arrived on the scene around 2:20 a.m. on Sunday, they were met with “a large crowd from a nearby party and two victims of battery who sustained minor injuries.”
A GoFundMe set up to help with funeral costs paid tribute to Melgoza as “a loving son, brother, father, cousin, partner, family member and friend.”
“He always had a way to make you smile,” the page reads. “He was there for you at anytime to give a helping hand.”
The brothers accused in Melgoza’s slaying are due back in court next for a pre-preliminary hearing on Dec. 24.