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Nightclub Beating Victim Threw First Punch, Defense Attorney Says

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Kim Pham died after a brutal beating outside of a Santa Ana nightclub (Photo via Justice for Kim Pham Facebook)
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The defense attorney for one of the suspects involved in the fatal beating of Annie Hung "Kim" Pham outside of a Santa Ana nightclub claims the victim threw the first punch that ignited the brawl.

Michael Molfetta is representing one of the four suspects police had been searching for, according to the Los Angeles Times. He also noted that authorities have identified the remaining suspects but have not arrested them yet, including his client.

Pham and her friends were waiting in line to enter the Crosby nightclub early morning on Jan. 18 when an argument broke out with another group which led five people to stomp on the victim until she was unconscious on the sidewalk. Pham was declared brain-dead on Sunday, but was on life support until Tuesday so doctors could harvest her donated organs.

One of the suspects, 25-year-old Vanesa Tapia Zavala, was arrested and pleaded not guilty to murder charges in court on Wednesday. Police had found her cell phone that she lost during the melee. Her attorney Kenneth Reed said she didn't partake in the beating and was actually knocked over during the brawl, reported City News Service.

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A witness and friend of Pham's told the Los Angeles Times that the argument started because Pham accidentally walked into the photo of another group.

However, Molfetta paints a different picture of what happened that tragic evening. He alleges the dispute started when one of Zavala's friends inadvertently bumped into Pham.

“My understanding is that Pham threw the first punch, which landed on the face of Vanesa Zavala,” Molfetta told the Los Angeles Times. "From there the thing escalated very quickly, very violently, and there were a number of people in line with Ms. Pham that attacked the people that Ms. Zavala was with."

Pham, an aspiring writer, had graduated from Chapman last year with a degree in psychology, and in her free time raised money for the fight against breast cancer and also for tsunami victims in Japan.

If you have any information about the incident, contact Santa Ana police at (714) 245-8390.