Recent information indicates that a victim of a Santa Ana nightclub beating
had friends with Asian
gang affiliations. Attorneys representing the two women charged with
assault in conjunction with the incident claim that this new information could
"change everything in terms of the tenor of the case."
Vanesa Tapia Zavala and Candace Marie Brito are facing charges of murder
and assault after beating and killing Kim Pham outside of a nightclub
on January 18. According to Zavala and Brito's defense attorneys,
new evidence connects Pham with an Asian gang, which could potentially
justify the women's actions.
"It explains and justifies my clients' fear for themselves,"
said the attorney.
The prosecutor dealing with the case says that while some gang slogans
may have been exchanged in a separate brawl that occurred on the same
night, this particular altercation was not gang-related. Both city officials
and law enforcement stated they did not believe the nightclub beating
had any gang affiliation or racial implications.
The defense attorneys not only believe this fight was gang-related, but
that Zavala and Brito were actually the victims – Pham was the aggressor
and the one who instigated the fight.
According to the prosecutor, this doesn't matter. Regardless of who
started the fight, Zavala and Brito finished it. The prosecutor believes
evidence suggests that Zavala and Brito continued to beat Pham while she was down.
At a preliminary hearing last Friday, prosecutors added "assault likely
to cause great bodily injury" charges on top of the defendants'
murder charges. What this means is that the jury now has options. Even
if they do not find the two guilty of murder, they could find them guilty
of the lesser assault charges.