Two California women convicted of manslaughter for fatal nightclub beating

Prosecutor says lesson is "just walk away."
By Matt Bradwell  |  July 25, 2014 at 10:46 AM
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SANTA ANA, Calif., July 25 (UPI) -- Two California women were convicted of manslaughter Thursday for kicking a woman to death outside a nightclub in January.

Santa Ana residents Candace Marie Brito, 27, and Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 26, kicked 23-year-old Kim Pham to death outside a now-closed closed nightclub.

Although video showed Pham initiated the altercation, prosecutors said Brito and Zavala went too far in their self-defense, repeatedly kicking Pham in the head until she lay unconscious on the sidewalk.

Witnesses called police and paramedics, but Pham had already been beaten into a coma. She remained unresponsive for two days before doctors harvested her organs and took her off life support.

Jurors convicted Brito and Zavala of felony manslaughter, but spared them from second-degree murder.

"I've always informed my client that's what I thought they should be convicted of," defense attorney Michael Molfetta told local reporters after the manslaughter verdict was announced.

"I told [Brito], 'You don't know this yet, but you won. One day when you get out, sooner rather than later, you'll realize you could have spent the rest of your life in jail.'"

Prosecutor Troy Pino was emotional as the verdict was read, crying, later telling reporters the lesson of the ordeal was to "walk away" from alcohol-fueled conflicts.

"Don't get offended, walk away," Pino said through tears.

"Just walk away ... You have one young woman who is dead. And two young women who have been convicted of a homicide. Nobody wins."

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