An Alameda County Jury found Giselle Esteban guilty of first-degree murder in the case of killing nursing student Michelle Le last May and dumping her body near the Sunol-Pleasanton border.
The jury announced its decision Monday shortly after 2:15 p.m. at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.
After the verdict was read, Le's family hugged each other in the hallway. Her brother, Michael Le, said he felt like a "burden had been lifted." His family had sat in the front row holding hands during the announcement.
As the jury read its findings, Esteban looked as if she knew the jury was going to come back with that verdict.
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.
“I am very gratified with the jury's decision," stated Deputy District Attorney Butch Ford. "I want to acknowledge the Hayward Police Department for their dedication and persistence in investigating and solving this horrible murder. The jury's considered evaluation of the evidence today led to a just verdict."
After the verdict, District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley stated, “I am pleased the perpetrator of this heinous, calculated crime has been brought to justice. I hope today’s verdict will help the family and friends of Ms. Le to continue the long process towards healing following this tragic and senseless crime.”
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.