The two women charged in the death of Santa Ana bar fight victim Kim Pham appeared in court for the first time on Thursday. One of their attorneys claimed Pham played a part in instigating the fight. Hetty Chang reports from Newport Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.
An attorney for a suspect accused in the fatal beating of a woman outside a nightclub said on Thursday that evidence will prove it was the victim who started the fight.
Attorney Michael Molfetta, who represents 27-year-old Candice Marie Brito, one of two women charged in the slaying of Kim Pham, said the evidence will prove Pham was not an innocent bystander in an altercation at the Crosby nightclub in Santa Ana on Jan. 19. Pham was left brain dead, and taken off life support two days later.
“There was a melee and it was very, very, very explosive," Molfetta said. "It's unfortunate that somebody died as a result of it. She certainly didn't deserve it, but she certainly did her part in instigating it.”
How the fight started doesn’t matter, prosecutors said.
"The victim was on the ground," said Troy Pino, an Orange County senior deputy district attorney. "She was then vulnerable, and any assault at that point was unjustified."
As Brito and Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, face a court hearing Tuesday in which a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to try them on murder charges in the slaying, police identified a third possible suspect in the beating that left 23-year-old Annie Hung “Kim” dead. Police withheld the person’s name because she is not considered a suspect, officials said.
Molfetta said an “inadvertent bump” triggered the brawl as one group was leaving the bar and
another group was entering when the conflict happened.
Pham was punched, kicked and knocked to the ground while she waited to get into the Crosby Restaurant and Nightclub in a beating that some bystanders captured on cellphone cameras, police said.
Up to 15 people, including security guards, friends of the victim, and bystanders, stepped in to try to help Pham, prosecutors said.
“This whole thing was very easily avoidable,” Molfetta said. “Had a couple of people stepped in at a very early stage in the proceedings and remained stepped in, nothing would have happened other than a couple of f-bombs and people walking away.”