Evidence against two women accused of fatally beating a recent college graduate outside a Santa Ana nightclub clearly shows they kicked her in the head before she became unconscious, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Eyewitness testimony and videos from the Jan. 18 fight outside the Crosby proves Candace Brito, 27, and Vanesa Zavala, 26, both kicked Kim Pham in the head, said Orange County Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Troy Pino in closing arguments.
“Yet they both deny it,” Pino said. “I wish that was true, I wish they didn’t kick Ms. Pham in the head. We wouldn’t be here and they wouldn’t be here if she was alive.”
Brito and Zavala are each charged with murder and one felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
The brawl began after Brito and Zavala’s friend, referred to as “Amelia,” bumped into Pham as she looked at a picture outside the Crosby.
A verbal argument quickly escalated into a fight after Pham appears to throw the first punch, Pino said. As Pham fights with Amelia on the ground, the defendants separately kicked the Pham in the head, Pino said.
Zavala is accused of dealing the final blow moments before Pham goes limp and falls to an unconscious heap.
An O.C. forensic pathologist said Pham, 23, died of complications from blunt force trauma to the head, identifying six significant impact sites. However, it was impossible to determine whether it was one hit that caused her death or a combination of blows.
On the stand, Zavala said she never kicked Pham.
Brito, who was the only person to take the stand in her defense, said she never kicked Pham in the head and insisted she aimed at her back. She said she was pushed to the ground twice during the altercation.
Brito also said she feared for Amelia’s safety because it appeared that men were holding her down and allowing Pham to get the upper hand.
“She claimed she was afraid of the male Asians and feared for Amelia,” Pino said. “But who did she kick? She didn’t kick the male Asians -- she kicked the victim.”
Pino is expected to resume his closing arguments Tuesday afternoon before Brito and Zavala’s attorneys give theirs.