SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A judge Tuesday ordered two women to stand trial on murder charges stemming from the fatal beating of a 23-year-old Westminster woman outside an Orange County nightclub.
Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, and 27-year-old Candace Marie Brito were arrested and charged in the death of Annie Hung “Kim” Pham, who was attacked shortly after midnight on Jan. 18 outside The Crosby Bar and Nightclub.
Both suspects, who were being held on $1 million bail, pleaded not guilty to the attack.
A 911 call that came in to report the incident has meanwhile been released.
KCAL9’s Michele Gile reports a bystander phoned authorities when Pham’s friends didn’t know what to do, and one of them handed the woman a cell phone.
“There’s a fight right here off of Broadway, Broadway and 4th Street. There’s a girl that’s unconscious,” the caller says.
“There were guys and girls beating her… There were guys and girls that were hitting her,” she continues, later noting it appeared Pham started breathing.
Pham was transported to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries.
Brito’s attorney Michael Molfetta told reporters outside the court room following a preliminary hearing Tuesday a witness told him Pham had been drinking that night, and instigated the argument that led to her death.
“That night at The Crosby was a powder keg… and that powder keg exploded and I think, if nothing else, we’ve proven in the past few days we’ve seen Ms. Pham is the one who lit the match,” Molfetta said.
“I’ve heard the prosecution say it doesn’t matter who starts it. That is simply a misstatement of the law,” he continued.
The District Attorney said it doesn’t matter if that’s the case.
“It’s disputed as to whether she was the aggressor or not. Some people say yes, others say no. It depends on who you are and what you saw,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino said.
“For the purposes of our case it doesn’t matter if she was the initial aggressor. The bottom line is she’s on the ground defenseless when these two defendants kick her in the head. And that’s what killed her,” Pino added.
Authorities are still looking for a female person of interest in the case whom they say has not responded to phone calls from police. The woman has obtained a lawyer.
If convicted, Zavala and Brito could each be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.
A hearing for the women has been scheduled for February 21.