Second Woman Charged With Murder In Nightclub Beating
The second suspect in a fatal nightclub beating in Santa Ana that left a woman dead has been charged today.
Candace Marie Brito, 27, was charged with second-degree murder for the beating of 23-year-old Annie Hung "Kim'' Pham, reported City News Service. The suspect was arrested on Friday and prosecutors are expected to ask for $1 million bail at Brito's arraignment at a Santa Ana courthouse this morning.
Brito's attorney Michael Molfetta said she was "petrified and confused" and "didn't do a thing wrong," according to O.C. Register.
After an argument broke out between two groups on the early morning of Jan. 18 in front of the Crosby nightclub, a group of people (now believed to be three suspects instead of the five reported earlier) stomped on Pham until she was left brain-dead. A witness and friend of Pham's claimed the dispute started when the victim accidentally walked into the other group's photo.
Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, was the first suspect arrested and charged with a felony count of murder. She pleaded not guilty in court last week and is now sitting in jail with bail set at $1 million. Molfatta alleged that it was Pham who threw the first punch which "landed on the face of Vanesa Zavala" and that the suspect didn't partake in the beating at all.
Police released a photo of the third suspect in the case, but do not know her name. "We're trying to track her down and see what her story is,'' Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas told City News Service. "She's a person of interest.''
There were earlier reports of two men involved in the beating. However, Rojas said a simultaneous fight had broken out between several men that night, which added to a "very chaotic scene" in the melee.
Pham had graduated from Chapman University last year with a degree in psychology and had aspirations to be a writer. A funeral service for Pham is being held this morning at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Westminster. The OC Register reported from marriage certificate records that the mass comes just days before Pham would have celebrated her one-year anniversary with husband Giang Ngokhanh on Jan. 31.
A $10,000 reward is offered for information on the beating. If you have any information about the incident, contact Santa Ana Police Department's Crimes Against Persons Unit at (714) 245-8390.
UPDATED 11:25 a.m.: Brito pleaded not guilty in her arraignment this morning, according to City News Service. She is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 30 for a pretrial hearing. NBC Los Angeles reported that Brito could face 15 years to life in state prison if she is convicted of Pham's murder.