Nightclub beating suspects appear in court but hearing is delayed


Two women charged with killing a woman outside a Santa Ana nightclub were in court Tuesday, but the hearing to determine whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute them was postponed to Monday.

Candace Marie Brito, 27, and Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, have been charged with murder in the death of Kim Pham.

The 23-year-old was taken off life support days after she was pronounced brain-dead following the Jan. 18 melee outside The Crosby nightclub.


PHOTOS: Woman killed outside nightclub

Video of the incident and testimony from five Santa Ana police officers are expected to be presented at Monday’s preliminary hearing in Westminster.

Attorney Michael Molfetta represented both women on Tuesday. Zavala’s attorney, Kenneth Reed, was in federal court on another matter.

Each lawyer has maintained their client’s innocence, claiming neither is responsible for killing Pham. Molfetta said it was Pham who threw the first punch.

“I’ve seen the video, I’ve seen everything there is to be seen so far,” Molfetta said outside the courthouse. “I have not seen anything that changes my opinion about what occurred that night.”

Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Troy Pino said last week that it is irrelevant who threw the first punch.

In court, Molfetta objected to the preliminary hearing being held in Westminster; the case was previously expected to be tried in Newport Beach.

“There are reasons for it, it wasn’t arbitrary, but I don’t think it would be appropriate to comment on what those are,” Molfetta said.

Brito and Zavala both wore dark-blue jumpsuits and were shackled during Tuesday’s brief court appearance.

Friends and family of the suspects were in court, as were Pham’s friends and family members, including her father.

The Crosby, a trendy downtown Santa Ana nightspot, has not reopened since the incident. The owners have not officially confirmed the business’ closure but have posted statements on Facebook thanking patrons for their support over the years.

Ryan Chase, president of Downtown Inc., who has spoken on behalf of the business in the past, said he wasn’t able to confirm the nightclub’s closure.

Follow Adolfo Flores on Twitter.