Two women held for trial in nightclub beating case

Feb. 12, 2014 at 2:40 AM   |   Comments

SANTA ANA, Calif., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Two women charged with the murder of a young woman beaten outside a Santa Ana, Calif., nightclub were ordered held for trial Tuesday.

A judge refused to reduce the charges against Candace Brito, 27, and Vanesa Zavala, 25, to manslaughter, KTLA-TV reported. On Monday, as the preliminary hearing began, a police officer testified that the victim, Kim Pham, was the first one to get physical, although another officer said Pham's friends said she did not throw the first punch.

"With all due respect to the Pham family and to the tragedy that they're going through, I think the tiara is off Ms. Pham," Michael Molfetta, who represents Brito, said after the hearing. "She was not just standing in line, having a drink, waiting to go out and be with her friends. That's not what happened that night."

Pham, 23, was beaten into a coma during the altercation outside The Crosby, a trendy nightclub in downtown Santa Ana. She died a few days later after she was taken off life support.

Troy Pino, the prosecutor, said the level of violence used against Pham is shown on cellphone videos of the fight and was not justified.

"You see Ms. Brito go around the pack ... and give two very hard kicks. And then, when she's pushed away, then in comes Ms. Zavala, and delivers a very hard kick," Pino said. "At that point, Ms. Pham goes limp, never recovers consciousness, and dies."

Officer Roland Andrade testified Monday that witnesses said someone in the group Zavala and Brito were with bumped into Pham and then apologized in a "sarcastic" tone. Pham then began yelling, witnesses said, and the fight escalated from there.

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