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OC nightclub beating verdict

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Justice for Kim Pham

SANTA ANA (CNS) - Two women were convicted today of voluntary  manslaughter for a brawl outside a Santa Ana nightclub that killed a 23-year- old woman waiting to get inside.

Candace Marie Brito, 27, and Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 26, were also  convicted of assault for with force likely to cause great bodily injury for the  Jan. 19 melee outside the Crosby Bar and Nightclub. Sentencing was set for  Sept. 12.

Kim Pham, who was waiting with friends to get into the club, died in the  attack.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino argued that witness accounts  and two videos shown during the trial proved the defendants kicked Pham in the  head outside the now-closed bar.

Defense attorneys, however, countered that the videos were inconclusive,  and that prosecutors could not prove which blow actually caused Pham's death.

Dr. Etoi Davenport, who performed the autopsy on Pham, testified during  the trial that she sustained six major blows to the head, and any one of them  could have killed her. Pham was in a fistfight that she started with another  woman, identified by defense attorneys as Emilia Calderon, and could have been  killed by one of those punches, Brito's attorney Michael Molfetta contended.

Zavala's attorney, Kenneth Reed, told jurors that prosecutors failed to  prove a cause of death in the case, making acquittal necessary. Reed also  argued that the victim was also punched by others, which could have caused her  death, and said his client did not kick Pham.

In his closing argument, Pino showed jurors two videos of the beating at  regular and slower speeds as he tried to reconcile the footage with accounts  of what happened from witnesses such as security guards and friends of the  victim. But in some cases, he noted witnesses were reluctant to testify and the  prosecutor had to have police testify to what the witnesses said in the days  after the beating.

Pham and her friends were waiting in line early Jan. 19 when Calderon  bumped into Pham while leaving the establishment with her boyfriend, Zavala and  her boyfriend, and Brito, according to Pino. Pham and her friends were taking a  photo outside the club at the time.

Pham likely threw the first punch and the fighting briefly stopped, but  then it started up again and ultimately Pham was dragged down to the ground by  her hair by Zavala and Calderon, Pino said.

Pham was declared brain dead when she arrived at a hospital and was  disconnected from life support two days later, after her organs were harvested.

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