Tags: kim pham | beating | death

Kim Pham Beating Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Death Outside Bar

Image: Kim Pham Beating Suspects Plead Not Guilty to Death Outside Bar Candace Brito, left, and Vanesa Zavala

Wednesday, 12 Feb 2014 02:15 PM

By Michael Mullins

Kim Pham's alleged killers, Vanesa Zavala, 25, and Candace Brito, 27, appeared in a California courtroom Tuesday, where they pleaded not guilty to murdering the 23-year-old bar patron, who was beaten to death outside a Santa Ana bar in the early morning hours of Jan. 18.

Prosecutors allege that Brito punched the left side of Pham's head twice as she scrapped with Brito's friend and then kicked Pham twice in the head after she fell to the ground and kept fighting, The Associated Press reported.

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The altercation reportedly began after a friend of Zavala and Brito’s group bumped into Pham, a witness told Police Officer Roland Andrade, The Los Angeles Times reported.

According to Andrade, Pham, an aspiring journalist, said "Excuse me," in a sarcastic tone, which triggered a screaming match between the victim and a group of girls. It quickly escalated into a full-blown assault.

"Zavala and Brito’s group walked away, but then came back twice to confront Pham, who broke free from her friends and threw the first punch," Andrade said, the LA Times reported.

After being knocked to the floor, Pham was allegedly kicked in the head by Brito, according to a witness at the scene. Pham appeared to have lost consciousness after receiving the kick to the head.

"It's very clear on the video," Orange County Prosecutor Tony Pino said outside court Tuesday. "Videos don't lie."

The forensic pathologist who conducted Pham's autopsy ruled the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head.

The 23-year-old Vietnamese-American was alive when police arrived at the scene but was subsequently taken off life support five days after the assault when her physicians confirmed she was brain dead.

Though the forensic pathologist testified that Pham's death was caused by a series of blows she received while on the floor, she said it was impossible to say which specific blow caused the brain bleeding and swelling that led to her death.

During the preliminary hearing, police played three cell phone videos obtained from witnesses at the scene which they claimed showed the suspects involved in the fatal assault.

There is also a third woman, identified only as "Amelia" in court, who was apparently fighting with Pham on the ground when she was kicked, the AP reported.

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