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Woman charged in Santa Ana nightclub beating takes the stand

Candace Brito says she kicked Kim Pham outside O.C. club, aiming for her back, not her head
Candace Brito testifies in her own defense in O.C. club beating death of Kim Pham
'I was scared,' says Candace Brito of fight outside O.C. club that ended in Kim Pham's death

One of the women accused of fatally beating a 23-year-old outside a Santa Ana nightclub took the stand in her defense Monday, testifying she aimed for the recent college graduate's back and never struck her head.

Candace Brito, 27, was the only person to testify in her defense.

In a calm and firm voice, Brito said she punched Kim Pham, who was fighting with her friend Amelia, and was immediately thrown to the ground. She lost sight of her friends momentarily in the chaotic scene Jan. 18 outside the Crosby.

“I was scared. There was a lot of guys surrounding us,” Brito said. “I saw men grabbing Amelia. They didn’t seem like they were trying to stop the fight. They just seemed like they were grabbing Amelia.”

Brito and Vanesa Zavala are facing murder charges in the death of Pham. Prosecutors argued that Brito and Zavala kicked Pham in the head, ultimately killing her.

A forensic pathologist said Pham died due to blunt force trauma to the head, but that it was impossible to tell whether it was one hit that caused her to die or a combination of blows.

Eyewitnesses testified the fight started when someone from Brito and Zavala’s group bumped into Pham as she stood with friends outside the Crosby. After briefly arguing, the encounter escalated into a physical fight that witnesses said was started by Pham when she threw the first punch.

Brito, wearing a pink shirt and black sweater, remained calm during her testimony.

Brito said men who were friends of Pham were holding her friend, Amelia, and appeared to be helping Pham as Pham struck Amelia. Brito said she was pushed to the ground twice, injuring her head and back.

Brito came back to the fight and kicked, aiming at Pham’s back. She kicked rather than get too close to the fight.

“I didn’t want to get pulled,” Brito said. “There were too many guys around, pulling at Amelia and I didn’t want to get hit.”

When asked by Kenneth Reed, Zavala's attorney, whether she kicked Pham in the head, Brito said she did not.

Her defense attorney, Michael Molfetta, rested his case Monday afternoon.

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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