Santa Ana bar brawl: Women ‘took cheap shots’ at victim’s head, prosecutor says

A prosecutor used his closing arguments Tuesday to say two women charged with murder “took cheap shots” as they kicked a 23-year-old recent Chapman graduate on the head, causing her blunt force trauma death outside a trendy Santa Ana nightclub earlier this year.

The two women, defendants Vanessa Zavala, 26, and Candace Brito, 27, are on trial for victim Kim Pham’s beating death, the result of a chaotic bar brawl outside the now-shuttered Crosby nightclub in the early hours of January 18, 2014, authorities said.

They are charged with second degree murder and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

“They took cheap shots at the victim’s head,” Orange County senior deputy District Attorney Troy Pino alleged in his closing argument.

Pino said that the two women, twenty-something Santa Ana office workers, did not show mercy in the fight.

“The evidence is very clear,” Pino said. “The defendants both kicked Miss Pham in the head.”

But what kicks? a defense attorney rebutted in his closing argument.

Witnesses have been unable to say that they, with their own eyes, saw a kick land, and cell phone videos taken during the brawl seem to not show either defendant kick, defense attorney Kenneth Reed, who is representing Zavala, said.

“The (cell phone video) does not show Vanesa Zavala kick Kim Pham in the head,” Reed said. “The tape doesn’t show that.”

The cell phone video, one of about three taken during the fight, has an obstructed view and has been open to much interpretation by attorneys during the trial.

Reed said that while the fight may have been a tragedy, it does not mean that the defendants committed a crime.

The fight is believed to have been caused after a friend of the defendants bumped into Pham, who was with a group of friends was either taking or had just taken a group picture. Words were exchanged and then Pham threw a punch, attorneys said, and a chaotic brawl quickly began. 

The defense has argued that Zavala and Brito acted in self-defense as they entered the fray of the fluid fight.

The trial will continue Wednesday, July 23, 2014, with a closing argument by defense attorney Michael Molfetta, who is representing Brito, and an expected counter-argument by Pino. 

The jury will then begin its deliberations.

By Tim Worden.

Published July 22, 2014 at 6:15 p.m.

Updated July 23, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.

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