As the news broke that a 23-year-old woman died from head injuries suffered in a brawl outside an Orange County nightclub, police announced a news conference to discuss new details in the case. Detectives are still looking for four subjects involved in the fight. Beverly White reports from Santa Ana for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2014.
A 23-year-old Westminster woman died of complications of blunt force trauma to the head after a beating outside an Orange County nightclub, according to a coroner’s report released Thursday.
Kim Pham was punched, kicked and knocked to the ground while she waited to get into the Crosby Restaurant and Nightclub on Friday in a beating that some onlookers captured on cellphone cameras, police said.
As news of the coroner's report came out on Thursday, Santa Ana police announced a press conference to be held on Friday at which the chief is expected to talk about the murder investigation.
The autopsy determines how she died, but what officials could not say was whether her injuries came from a fall or if they happened during the fight. The Chapman University student who aspired to be a writer was declared dead on Tuesday after being taken off life support so her organs could be donated, her family said.
Vanessa Zavala, 25, was charged with murder in connection with the beating. Zavala remains jailed on $1 million dollar bond after entering a not guilty plea on Wednesday.
Police believe there are four others who were involved in the fight and are reviewing cellphone footage from that night with the hope of identifying them, said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a Santa Ana Police Department spokesman.
Investigators are "continuing to show photo lineups to the people who have come forward and have told us they were at the scene that night. They're going through the video, frame by frame by frame," Bertagna said.
Michael Molfetta, a lawyer who was contacted by one of those possible suspects, said what happened that night was tragic, explosive and senseless and that witnesses tell him the victim was also involved in the altercation and threw a punch.
Molfetta said his female client is innocent and was hurt in the melee as well. She had not surrendered to police by Thursday night.
"It wasn't racially motivated. It was not photobombing," he said. "It was about words, physical interaction and then a melee. And all of that occurred in a very, very, very short period of time. And by short period of time, we're talking seconds."
Friends and family, meanwhile, were mourning Pham on a Facebook page called, “Justice for Kim Pham,” started by her sister with thousands of posts from people offering their condolences.
"So sorry about your loss!!" Francesca M wrote on the page. "My heart just aches for the family. I've seen flights myself and been horrified to see people recording them rather than helping! Our society is sick. I pray that the family will have some peace and that these terrible people will be found and tried!"
NBC4's Beverly White contributed to this report.