An Alameda County judge on Monday sentenced Giselle Esteban to 25 years to life for the first-degree murder of a nursing student last May and dumping her body near the Sunol-Pleasanton border.
A jury announced had found Esteban guilty of killing Michelle Le on Oct. 29 in Oakland. As Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson issued her sentence, Esteban looked straight ahead, her face hidden by her long hair.
First though, Esteban had to listen to Le's loved ones talk about what she had done to their lives and how much they missed her. Le grew up in San Diego and was a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School.
Le's cousin, Krystine Dinh, described the family's "overwhelming loss," and described Le as joyful, carefree and beautiful inside and out. "I miss everything about her," said a tearful Dinh.
She urged the judge to "keep Michelle's murderer behind bars for life where she can't harm another human being again"
Le's brother, Michael Le, also shared his anguish. "I feel broken and utterly incomplete without Michelle," he said. "She stalked and took Michelle's life because of an overactive imagination. Michelle dd nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing."
Le's body was found on Sept. 17 last year, four months after the Oakland-based Samuel Merritt University nursing student disappeared from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward.
Esteban, a 29-year-old Union City woman who attended high school with Le in San Diego, was charged with Le's murder a few days before Le's body was found based on DNA and cellphone records.
Prosecutors have said that Esteban believed that Le was having sex with Esteban's former boyfriend - and the father of her daughter.
Esteban's attorney, Andrea Auer, has never disputed that her client killed Le, but argued in court that the evidence against Esteban was done in the "heat of passion" and her client should not be convicted of first-degree murder.
As he read the sentence, Rolefson had harsh words for Esteban: "To make the decision to kill Michelle Le was clearly proven it was clearly premeditated. It was really cold-blooded. Nowhere have I seen or heard any hint of remorse."