Did Jealousy Drive Suspect to Murder Michelle Le?

Did suspicions of a love triangle factor into case? Prosecutors say Giselle Esteban, of Union City, killed Le believing that Le had a romantic relationship with her baby's father.


By Bay City News Service

Opening statements began this morning in the trial of Giselle Esteban, the woman accused of murdering Samuel Merritt University nursing student Michelle Le in 2011.

Le, a 26-year-old San Mateo woman, disappeared from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward on May 27, 2011. Her body was found nearly four months later, on Sept. 17, 2011, in a remote area between Pleasanton and Sunol.

Prosecutors allege that Esteban killed Le, a former longtime friend, out of jealousy because she was convinced that Le had a romantic relationship with Scott Marasigan, the father of Esteban's child.

This morning, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Butch Ford said in his opening statement that he will ask the jury to convict Esteban of first-degree murder, saying he has proof that the killing was "intentional, willful and premeditated."

Ford said there is video and cellphone evidence that places both Le and Esteban in the parking garage of Kaiser Permanente the day of Le's disappearance.

"Michelle Le was 26 years old, was full of life," Ford said. "But the evidence will show that the defendant took her life based on an emotion that's been around forever -- jealousy, which became hatred."

The courtroom was packed with Le's family members and friends this morning. A small group of Esteban's family and friends also attended.

Esteban, 28, of Union City, attended high school with Le in San Diego. She was charged with Le's murder on Sept. 8, 2011 -- before Le's body was found -- based on DNA evidence and cellphone records.

The defense was set to begin its opening statement later this morning.

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