Conflicting Testimonies in Prelim Trial for Deadly Santa Ana Bar Brawl - NBC Southern California

Conflicting Testimonies in Prelim Trial for Deadly Santa Ana Bar Brawl

A police detective admitted in court that she wore a wire and went undercover as a female inmate to get one of the suspects to talk after she had asked for an attorney



    Undercover testimony from inside jail came in Monday during a hearing for the murder of Kim Pham. A detective reveals how she posed as an inmate to get close to a murder suspect. Patrick Healy reports from Westminster for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (Published Monday, Feb. 10, 2014)

    A witness told authorities that a 23-year-old woman who died after being beaten outside a Southern California nightclub instigated the fight by shouting obscenities and throwing the first punch after she and her friends bumped into another group exiting the trendy bar, a police detective testified Monday.

    According to one witness, Annie Hung Kim Pham began swearing and was restrained by friends as the other group walked away, Santa Ana police Detective Roland Andrade said at a preliminary hearing to determine whether two women should stand trial in the case. When the opposing group of two men and three women returned, Pham threw the first punch, Andrade quoted the eyewitness as saying.

    The account differs dramatically from that of Pham's friends, who told police that three women assaulted Pham, 23, without provocation after the two groups bumped into each other outside The Crosby nightclub in Santa Ana in the early morning hours of Jan. 18.

    Victim in Beating Instigated Fight: Lawyer

    [LA] Victim in Bar Beating Started Fight: Lawyer
    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.
    (Published Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014)

    The hearing will resume Tuesday for Vanesa Zavala and Candace Brito, who have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

    Police are still investigating a third woman as a person of interest and have reviewed three cellphone videos of the fight.

    Defense attorneys said Monday that the third, unidentified woman was actually the person who began fighting with Pham.

    Second Woman Charged in Kim Pham Death

    [LA] Second Woman Charged in Kim Pham Death
    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.
    (Published Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014)

    It was only after the two fell to the ground, pulling each other's hair and punching, that Brito, who was the unidentified woman's friend, kicked Pham in the head, Detective Matthew Mcleod said on the stand, summarizing the testimony of an eyewitness who also shot cellphone video.

    Zavala then also kicked at Pham, after which Pham went limp and lost consciousness, he said.

    Both women were picked out of a police photo lineup.

    Kenneth Reed, an attorney for Zavala, introduced the idea that Pham's friends might have minimized their involvement and Pham's role in the fight.

    "You just kind of took the story — 'She got beat' — and you just kind of took the statements of these friends of hers?" Reed said. "Fighting means fighting, more than one person fighting, right?"

    Pham, who went by the first name Kim, graduated from Chapman University last year and would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary last month. She was an aspiring writer whose work was published online and in an anthology of works by Vietnamese-American writers.

    Pham was taken off life support after the beating. The coroner listed Pham's cause of death as blunt force injury of the head.

    She had bleeding in her brain, two blackened eyes and contusions behind her left ear and on the right side of her head, said Dr. Etoi Davenport, a coroner's forensic pathologist.

    Also Monday, the judge halted testimony from a police detective after she said she wore a wire and went undercover as a female inmate to get Zavala to talk even though Zavala had already asked for an attorney.

    Detective Patricia Navarro was ordered back to court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear what the judge will do with her existing testimony.

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