Investigation into Santa Ana beating death

Spectators look over a memorial for Kim Pham, who was beaten to death outside a nightclub in Santa Ana last month. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / January 22, 2014)

A frantic caller described seeing attackers beat a 23-year-old woman who later died after a brawl outside a Santa Ana nightclub, according to a copy of a 911 tape released by police.

The 12:22 a.m. call came in shortly after the fight ended outside the Crosby in downtown Santa Ana, where Kim Pham lay on a sidewalk as a crowd gathered at the scene. Two women have been ordered to stand trial in connection with the Jan. 18 altercation.

"There's a girl that's unconscious," the female caller tells a 911 operator. "There was guys and girls hitting her. ... She's breathing now."

911 tape: Caller describes nightclub beating

The caller then says: "I just saw guys and girls hitting her. We just walked out the club and I don't know what happened."

The women tells the 911 operator that security guards had picked Pham up. The guards, the caller said, "didn't even know what to do."

During the 911 tape, which lasts for more than five minutes, the operator alerts medical rescuers as the caller waits on the line.

"Stay on the line," the operator says. "I'm going to get paramedics."

The 911 operator ends the call as the officers arrive at the scene.

Pham died three days later after being taken off life support. A coroner’s report said she died of blunt-force trauma to the head. Investigators have said that no men hit Pham, but they added there was another fight between men that took place at the same time.

On Tuesday, Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, and Candace Marie Brito, 27, were ordered to stand trial for the Pham's killing. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Santa Ana Police Det. Patricia Navarro testified Tuesday that she spent an hour with Zavala inside a jail holding cell.

Navarro testified Monday that she secretly recorded the conversation after Zavala refused to talk with police and asked for a lawyer.

Several legal experts told The Times that the secretly recorded conversation would be difficult to introduce as evidence during trial.

“My take is this conduct is outrageous,” said Veteran Orange County criminal defense attorney Paul Wallin.

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Twitter: @AdolfoFlores3

adolfo.flores@latimes.com