The attorney for the woman charged in the beating death of a 23-year-old nightclub patron in Santa Ana said in court Wednesday that his client was not involved in the attack but was "devastated" to learn of the death.
Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, is being held in lieu of $1-million bail and faces a single murder charge in the death of Kim Pham, who was hit and kicked outside the Crosby, a trendy club in the city's popular downtown area.
Defense attorney Kenneth Reed said Zavala was devastated upon learning of Pham's death, saying one moment, the mother of a 5-year-old boy is going out on a Friday night with her boyfriend, "then your life is turned upside down and you find out someone is killed."
"No matter what the situation is, you're going to be devastated," he said. "No matter how you look at it, and that's how she feels."
Reed said that not only did his client not take part in the attack, Zavala was actually struck and knocked to the ground herself during the incident.
Zavala, who was arrested Monday, is one of five people suspected of attacking Pham outside the nightclub. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the beating.
The incident early Saturday was captured on video, some of which has been reviewed by police. Detectives are asking witnesses who saw or recorded what happened to come forward.
Pham, a recent Chapman University graduate who aspired to become a writer and talk-show host, was declared brain-dead shortly after she was admitted to the hospital and was pronounced dead Tuesday after being taken off life support.
Police have not said what prompted the argument, but Pham's friends said it may have started after she accidentally stepped in front of a camera as a group of people posed for a photo.