Jurors deliberated for four-and-a-half days before reaching their verdict against Esteban during a case in which prosecutor Butch Ford said Esteban killed Le in the misguided belief that she was having a romantic relationship with Scott Marasigan, the father of Esteban's 6-year-old daughter, and was interfering with her relationship with Marasigan.
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.
In his closing argument in Esteban's trial, which began Oct. 1, Ford said Esteban, a 28-year-old Union City woman, had planned Le's murder for months and waited for Le in the hospital's parking lot for about four hours before attacking Le when she walked to her car during a break in her classes.
Esteban's lawyer, Andrea Auer, admitted to jurors that Esteban killed Le but said Esteban should only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because Le had provoked her and she acted in the heat of passion.
Auer conceded that Esteban had sent dozens of threatening text messages and waited for Le in the Kaiser parking lot and there was some type of confrontation, but she said, "You don't know who started it, what was said and what happened."
However, Ford, who described Esteban as "a sociopath," said Le was "a completely innocent victim in this case" and didn't do anything to provoke Esteban.
Esteban, who was dressed in a long-sleeved white shirt and black pants, looked straight ahead and didn't appear to show any emotion when the jury's verdict was announced Monday.
Le's father, Son Le, said afterward, "I know Michelle will rest in peace now that justice has been done. Michelle loved everybody and this is just so sad."
Le's brother, Michael Le, said, "I feel a tremendous burden has been lifted by the jury's verdict."
Le's cousin, Kristine Dinh, said Le should be remembered for "being so selfless and loving and always helping others."