SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — Two suspects charged in the fatal beating of a 23-year-old Westminster woman outside an Orange County nightclub appeared in court Thursday.
Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, and 27-year-old Candace Marie Brito were arrested and charged in the death of Annie Hung “Kim” Pham who was attacked shortly after midnight Jan. 18 outside The Crosby Bar and Nightclub.
Both suspects, who were being held on $1 million bail,pleaded not guilty to the attack.
“There’s been a lot of misinformation in this case,” OC Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino said outside the courtroom Thursday. “There have been statements that this was a person who was beaten by four to five people while everyone stood around and did nothing except videotape — and that’s not accurate. There were plenty of people who got involved and tried to stop this altercation, plenty of people: security guards, friends of the victim, bystanders.”
A law enforcement source who has seen the video says Zavala and Brito can be clearly seen kicking Pham as she lay on the ground. Initially, Pham was fighting back, but after a few kicks she allegedly stopped moving.
Pham died of complications a few days after the attack from blunt force trauma to the head, according to an autopsy report.
“I can tell you this: the blows that were administered, the victim was on the ground. And it doesn’t matter how we got to that point, and it’s not clear how we got to that point,” Pio said.
Brito’s attorney Michael Molfetta says she is just another victim in the incident and Pham was the one who threw the first punch.
“This young lady died tragically, she died unnecessarily. Whatever occurred out there was stupid, was mindless, was senseless and should never result in the death of anybody much less a young person,” he said earlier in the week. “Throughout the course of all this, Pham has been anointed a saint, and the people on the other side of this have been vilified internationally. That’s irresponsible and it’s also wrong.”
Officials also released a photograph of a third person of interest they are looking for in the case.