Newlywed mourned after deadly fight with wedding crashers

CHINO, California -- Friends and family are mourning a 30-year-old California man who police say was attacked and killed by two wedding crashers just hours after he got married.

Two brothers who live in the neighborhood, later identified as 28-year-old Rony Castaneda Ramirez and 19-year-old Josue Castaneda Ramirez, are accused of killing the groom after he tried to get them to leave the reception.

Joe Steven Melgoza, 30, of Chino, was found after police responded at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday regarding a fight. Melgoza had suffered blunt force trauma to his head and was transported to a hospital where he died, according to police.

Up until that time, friends described the ceremony and reception as a wonderful, happy start to what was to be a new life for Melgoza and his bride. Melgoza also has an 11-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

"Everybody was happy," said Red Valdovino, the couple's wedding decorator. "Come 4 p.m. all the guests came from the church and it was joy, just pure happiness."

Witnesses said the two brothers were at the reception, apparently looking for free alcohol, when they were asked to leave.

The arguments turned physical. The fight spilled out onto the street and into a back alleyway.
When police initially responded to scene they found a large crowd from the party and two victims of battery who had sustained minor injuries.

Police began searching for Melgoza after hearing from witnesses that the groom was missing. Police found him in the backyard of a residence.

Investigators were soon led to the two brothers, who live just down the block from the reception.

The two brothers were arrested and booked for murder and assault with a deadly weapon. They entered not guilty pleas in court.

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Friends and family members are mourning the death of a 30-year-old Chino man who they say was killed hours after he got married.

Relatives held a vigil to honor Melgoza Tuesday night.

Between tears, Joe's bride Esther - now his widow - told the crowd she had still taken a nursing test earlier in the day despite her grief, because she said her husband had pushed her to work hard and achieve her dream.

"Today I passed my first semester," Esther said. "I know he wanted me to pass because he worked so hard."

She said in honor of late husband, she will do whatever it takes to become a nurse.

Joe's brother, Matthew Velasquez, said the family wants justice.

"We want justice for my brother and I hope these two individuals never see the light of day," Matthew Velasquez said.

Friends said Joe knew Esther's family since he was a teenager and her family is crushed by the loss.