SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 25-year-old woman Wednesday pleaded not guilty to fatally beating a Westminster woman outside an Orange County nightclub.
Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, was arrested Monday for the death of 23-year-old Annie Hung “Kim” Pham, a recent Chapman University graduate.
Pham was brutally beaten by a group of people Saturday night while waiting in line outside the Crosby Bar and Nightclub in Santa Ana. She was declared brain dead the next day and pronounced dead Tuesday.
The reward, which was increased to $10,000 by the Santa Ana City Council, was being offered for information leading to the arrest of four outstanding suspects. The city council approved a $5,000 reward Tuesday night matching Downtown Inc.’s identical pledge.
Bail for Zavala, a mother of a 5-year-old son, was set at $1 million. She faces a murder charge and, if convicted, could face 15 years to life in prison.
The defendant’s attorney, Kenneth Reed, said Zavala was knocked down during the melee, and he doubted reports that it was a beat-down.
“I refuse to believe that people of this community would watch a woman be stomped to death by five people and nobody would do anything,” Reed said. The lawyer characterized it as “a melee, a bunch of people fighting.”
A witness told CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Stacey Butler that Pham was indeed beaten down. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she fought back tears as she watched the massive brawl unfold.
“The video clip that somebody posted online, that’s the same time we walked out of The Crosby,” the witness said. “Everybody was just standing around recording her, cheering people on, ‘Fight.’ [Pham’s] other friends were there trying to help out, pull people off of her.”
But Reed insists Zavala is “devastated” by the violence.
“Your day is fine, your life is fine, you have a 5-year-old son, you go out one night on a Friday with your boyfriend and then your life is turned upside down and you find out someone is killed,” Reed said. “No matter what the situation is, you’re going to be devastated.”
Two men and two women are still being sought in the beating.
Anyone with information about the suspects’ whereabouts should contact SAPD detectives at (714) 245-8390.