OAKLAND, Calif. — (Bay City News Service) — Giselle Esteban was sentenced Dec. 10 to 25 years to life in state prison by a judge who warned her that she will never be paroled if she continues to feel no remorse for murdering nursing student Michelle Le, her former friend and high school classmate, in May 2011.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson told his packed courtroom that in an interview with a probation officer after her first-degree murder conviction on Oct. 29, Esteban said that if she had been on the jury, she probably would have voted in favor of a conviction but that she still “feels wrongly convicted.”
Rolefson said, “Nowhere have I seen or heard any hint of remorse” by Esteban, a 28-year-old Union City resident, for Le’s death. The judge told Esteban, “I hope someday you can develop a sense of remorse, because this was a crime with many victims,” referring to Le’s grieving family members and friends.
Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo resident who attended Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward on May 27, 2011. Her body was found in a remote area between Pleasanton and Sunol about four months later.
Prosecutor Butch Ford told jurors during the trial that Esteban killed Le because she mistakenly believed that Le was having a romantic relationship with Scott Marasigan, the father of Esteban’s 6-year-old daughter.
Ford alleged in the trial that Esteban had planned Le’s murder for months and staked her out in the Kaiser parking lot for hours before attacking her as she walked to her car.
Esteban’s lawyer, Andrea Auer, admitted to jurors that Esteban killed Le but had asked them to convict her of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter because she said Le had provoked Esteban and Esteban acted in the heat of passion.
Le and Esteban were high school friends in San Diego and both came to the Bay Area to attend college.
Marasigan testified that he had dated Le for about a month in the spring of 2003 but never had sex with her, and that they had stayed friends afterward. Marasigan said he was unable to convince Esteban, with whom he had an on-again, off-again relationship, that he was no longer romantically involved with Le.
Rolefson said today, “I’ve never seen a circumstantial evidence case that pointed more clearly to the perpetrator and had so much evidence of premeditation and deliberation.”
He said, “The decision to kill Michelle Le was clearly proven and the fact is it was really cold-blooded.”
Ford said after the hearing that in her interview with the probation officer, Esteban “still said she had nothing to do with Michelle’s death despite all the evidence against her and she still believes Michelle had a romantic relationship with Scott.”
At the hearing, Le’s brother, Michael Le, said Esteban “took an innocent life because of an over-active imagination.”
Le said, “I feel broken and utterly incomplete without Michelle, and I miss my sister so much.” Le said that by killing his sister, Esteban “showed the world her own ugliness.”