Videos of a brawl outside a Santa Ana nightclub that left a young college graduate in an unconscious heap were played repeatedly Wednesday as attorneys for two women charged in the attack told jurors that it was the victim herself who caused her own death.
As murder defendants
Pham, out with friends, apparently instigated the January scrum when she became upset when someone from the defendants' group bumped into her outside The Crosby in downtown Santa Ana.
"She didn't deserve to die, but the fact is she died because she took umbrage over a bump," defense attorney Michael Molfetta said.
At the time, the case drew enormous attention, in part because of initial reports that dozens of bystanders stood around, some shooting video, and failed to intervene as the fight escalated. The prosecutor, though, has said that more than 15 people actually tried to come to Pham's aid.
Friends and family have described Pham as a bubbly, high-achieving woman who recently graduated from Chapman University and aspired to be a journalist.
During a preliminary hearing earlier this year, defense attorneys painted a darker picture, saying Pham had been drinking the night of the fight, was argumentative and "lit the match" that started the brawl.
Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Troy Pino said, though it appears Pham threw the first punch, the two women deserve to be punished for her death. Brito and Zavala punched and kicked at Pham during the Jan. 18 fight, he said.
"Most people would say the victim was the aggressor," Pino said.
But it was Zavala, Pino said, who dealt the final kick that left Pham crumpled on the sidewalk.
"Let the criminal system do its job and find justice for the victim," Pino said.
Videos of the brawl outside the nightspot were played repeatedly Wednesday, as was a shot of Pham's bruised face, drawing sobs from her family seated in the packed courtroom.
In one video, Pham appears to throw the first punch. Later she can be seen straddling and hitting a third woman on the ground.
The same videos were shown during a preliminary hearing, in which Santa Ana Police Det. Leo Rodriguez paused the video to show Brito punching and later kicking Pham. Near the end of the video, Rodriguez points out another woman he identified as Zavala kicking at the ground in the direction of Pham. Moments later, Pham appears to go limp.
Kenneth Reed maintained that his client, Zavala, had a right to defend herself because Pham attacked her and her friends.
Arturo Martinez, a security guard who was working at the now-closed Crosby, testified Wednesday that Brito was the only one he saw kick Pham in the head.
Darwin Arayata, who was in line at the Crosby and recorded part of the fight on video, said he saw both Zavala and Brito kick toward Pham, but couldn't see whether the blows landed. He identified Zavala as the woman who kicked at Pham last.
Asked how he could be sure, Arayata said: "I didn't see the kick land, but it looked like it did. You see her body move back a little bit."
If convicted, Brito and Zavala each face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life.