Second Woman Charged in Beating Death Pleads Not Guilty

Candace Marie Brito is the second woman to face a murder charge in the Jan. 19 beating of Kim Pham

By Jonathan Lloyd and Vikki Vargas
|  Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014  |  Updated 9:17 PM PDT
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Candance Brito's defense attorney speaks about his client's involvement in an altercation that ended with the death of 23-year-old Kim Pham outside a Santa Ana nightclub. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014.

Kevin Dahlgren

Candance Brito's defense attorney speaks about his client's involvement in an altercation that ended with the death of 23-year-old Kim Pham outside a Santa Ana nightclub. Vikki Vargas reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014.

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A second woman charged in the beating death of a 23-year-old woman outside an Orange County nightclub has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

Candace Marie Brito, 27, of Santa Ana, is charged in the death of Annie Hung "Kim" Pham, who was attacked about 12:20 a.m. Jan. 19 while waiting to get into a club in Santa Ana, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

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Brito faces up to 15 years to life in state prison, if convicted.

The attack happened outside the Crosby Restaurant and Nightclub as several bystanders watched the fight and took cellphone video, police said. Nightclub security guards did not see the violence until it had ended, police said.

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Brito's attorney said after Tuesday's arraignment that it was a senseless bar fight and that his client had nothing to do with the physical confrontation.

"It's never the case that one party is 100-percent to blame and the other party was just alighted upon as they sat there and had a Zinfandel," said defense attorney Michael Molfetta. "It's just not the case. Candace Brito didn't kill her."

Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino said reports that no one in the crowd outside of the club tried to help the victim were "completely inaccurate."

"There were plenty of people trying to break up this altercation," Pino said, adding the victim's friends tried to intervene, as well.

Pham (pictured, right) died of complications from blunt force trauma to the head, according to a coroner’s report released Thursday.

She was remembered at a funeral service held at Blessed Sacrament Church in Westminster.

Last week, Vanessa Zavala, 25, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the beating. Zavala remains jailed with bail set at $1 million. She has pleaded not guilty.

Police said last week they believe there are others who were involved in the fight and are reviewing cellphone footage from that night.

Anyone with information can call the Santa Ana Police Department at 714-245-8390 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1-855-TIP-OCCS.

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