Judge Rejects Dismissal of Murder Charges in Kim Pham Beating Death Case: Update

See the update at the end of this post on the judge rejecting the defense motion to dismiss the charges.

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ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 15, 7:08 A.M.: A judge today could dismiss the charges against the two Santa Ana women accused of beating Kim Pham to death outside The Crosby on Jan. 19. Or, Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals could stick to the scheduled May 5 trial opening--or even delay the proceedings that have been sped up at the request of the defense attorneys for Candace Marie Brito and Vanesa Tapia Zavala.

You know, the same attorneys seeking dismissals.

Kim Pham Murder Trial Set to Begin April 14

Goethals, who has already heard arguments from the defense and prosecution about how the charges should he dismissed/upheld, previously explained he needed until today to decide so he could get another look at cell phone video showing the beating.

But the same judge has also indicated the trial may have to start later than Cinco de Mayo.

Candace-Marie-Brito-and-Vanesa-Tapia-Zavala.jpg
Candace Marie Brito (left) and Vanesa Tapia Zavala

Brito, 27, and Zavala, 25, are charged with second-degree murder, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and a sentence-enhancing allegation of causing great
bodily injury in connection with the death of Annie Hung "Kim" Pham, whose family took her off life support two days after her savage beating.

Zavala has said she, Brito, their boyfriends and a friend named Amelia were leaving the nightclub when Amelia got into an argument with Pham, who Zavala and Brito wanted to ignore. But when Pham took a swing at Amelia, she hit Zavala instead, a moment witnesses have marked as the moment all hell broke loose.

It was further claimed by Zavala that she was on the ground when the melee went on. But Santa Ana Police Detective Patricia Navarro has testified a witness reported seeing Zavala waiting for her chance to kick and punch Pham while she was on the ground being beaten by two other women.

Defense attorney Michael Molfetta, who represents Brito, has claimed Pham started the fight, that she was the aggressor and that she was with a group composed of people with ties to Asian gangs who were throwing out gang slogans and showing off gang tattoos. Prosecutor Anthony Pino has denied the incident was gang related.

UPDATE, APRIL 15, NOON: Judge Thomas Goethals conceded in court this morning that police apparently withheld some evidence that could have been helpful to defense attorneys but decided that was not enough of a transgression to warrant dismissal of the charges against Candace Marie Brito and Vanesa Tapia Zavala.

So as it stands now, the pair are due back in court April 25 for a pretrial hearing, and the trial is tentatively set for May 5, although Brito's attorney Michael Molfetta told City News Service the start date may be changed depending on the availability of a defense expert.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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145 comments
sochoa3
sochoa3

I blame everybody and technology, everybody with a cellphone videotaping could have helped. If we see fights, instead of helping, we videotape, Jesus!!!!! where is this world ending up too? We can stand around and criticize the idiocy of others like gangs and yet we don't do something simple like step up and break up a fight, especially if it is unfair. Yes I know that it is not our business or they could be armed but most people don't do it because of that, they don't do it because they like to watch people beat each other.

taidodinh
taidodinh

two amigas have to go jail they cant be here fat n ugly 

taidodinh
taidodinh

stop eating burritos freaking fat n ugly now have to serve life in prison they going to get fatter in there

WTWWD
WTWWD

Those woman are ugly as fuck, Kim didn't deserve to die.

Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez

Thomas I been through all of it and remeber all asian boyz are pussy fucks that are so short they call 20 other guys to come with wepons

Kent Harrison
Kent Harrison

Angel Sanchez you make it very easy to stereotype you and those girls as the Mexican trash you are. By stating things like "that bitch got what she deserved, she ran her mouth first"...it's things like that and the fact that you are a so called "business owner" and have that mentality still AND with kids....great example you are showing to them. Also one of the girls was out on the weekend beating someone on the ground to death when she had a 5 year old daughter at home? What kind of mom does that? I could keep going and going and say more, but you are definitely the reason why we stereotype you as Mexican trash and you did that all on your own. Stay in Texas you POS :)

Lyndsay Mcpherson
Lyndsay Mcpherson

@keenanroberts lmao at your posts your a smart ass realist like Kent Harrison in a good way though boys :)

Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen

yeah Christopher Nguyen as fake as that bald headed nigga talking shit on here like a Lil bitch

jilllee
jilllee

Seems like there may be a gag order on this case. I haven't heard too much from the prosecution or the defense attorneys. Thats good, the defense was mouthing off way too much. 


IMHO, this is a manslaughter vs murder case. There are a few facts given to the public that may allow one to formulate an opinion: 


1. Zavala was seen waiting to get her kicks in, she delivered the final blow to Phams head

2. All 3 mexican girls were initially seen walking away a couple times, came back a couple of times to confront kim pham. The third time they came back, thats when the fight started. At that point, it doesn't matter who started it- in fact, kim pham could have been defending herself because they circled back to confront her. 

3. 3 on 1 guys….come on, how is that ever a fair fight? Doesn't matter who starts it, what matters is how it ends. 

4. Come on guys….kicking her in the head when she was down? I am sure after a few blows to the head, they have removed all dangers necessary for a "self defense argument." But they kept kicking her in the head until she was completely lifeless. Self defense is limited- that way, you don't have people killing each other in fights. Once you removed yourself from danger- it is no longer self-defense. 

5. Come on guys…..kill out of the heat of the passion? I've seen that logic being thrown around. There is no law to protect you from killing another person out of anger, or any other high levels of emotion during a fight….especially a 3 and 1 fight.


The reason why it might be manslaughter case:

1. These girls do not seem like violent criminals to me. The will have character witnesses and their records will be pulled up. 


Anyway, I feel bad for them- for everyone involved actually. These people ruined their lives and it sucks some of them have children. And It totally sucks someone lost their life over this.




I blame santa ana. What the hell is wrong with the city. It is gang ridden, inadequate police force in downtown, highest crime/gang rate in Orange County. I would never pass through that city. A gang mentality pervades the people living there and the officials are all corrupt. Google Pulidos and Michelle martinez. They are shady as hell. And they recently caught a serial killer there, that was killing off a few prostitutes. Prostitution is a rampant problem there too. What the hell is going on with that city!!!???

Jrr Soler
Jrr Soler

Lyndsay Mcpherson Your opinion is quite racist. First let me educate you on something. United states belonged to the Indians n it was taken from them so I dunno are you Indian? ? If not than maybe you should go back to your country for having this ignorant opinion and comment. Second just to breathe a lil more of history thru your empty skull but almost half of California belonged to Mexico just like the Indians didn't dissapear neither will the mexicans that were left behind. Your racial profiling of a certain race has definitely showed some fine characteristics of yours. Obviously this was a human who died but this human decided to make a scenario escalate to a physical manner which it never should have got to. You can't go around hitting people in life cause you might come across other people who just might defend themself n possibly be a lil crazier than you. But do dismiss the person who caused this and point fingers to "Mexicans" is idiotic. It has nothing to do with race it has to do with violence and race should not have anything to do with this. But people like you jump at first chance to make it about that. Don't label a race or judge a race according to your thoughts. Only one person knows all the truth n that's the man almighty up above God n I don't think he's judging by our race. Your immature mentality n negativity towards a human mexican race is a pitty and shame.

michael4q2
michael4q2

Just face it, Asian people picked on and made the scapegoats!  Everywhere I worked

Asian people are to blame for everything that goes wrong! Look at England and

Texas, they blame the Asian people for working cheap and cut the fish prices.

If you are Asian, we must fight back and not let others pick on us. No one "messes"

with the Mexicans and Blacks!

Thomas Nguyen
Thomas Nguyen

what about the 2 Hispanic male and 1 female those 3 contribute to the murder too , 5 v 1 smh :/ , second the bandwagon about her friends not helping her to" level out the 5 attacker"....her friend probably wasn't there as well as there is no proof her friend right there when kim was attack and there is no real proof that kim is in a gang ... this biased mindset /bandwagon is just to level out them as bad as the attackers

Thomas Nguyen
Thomas Nguyen

^ nah asian are usually the one at a disadvantage and still fighting ... it the latino gangs that are the biggest wannabe usually chubby and running their mouth acting tough and only fight in numbers or with a weapon but some kind of advantage , dont use latino stereotype on asian,with that hella "biased and prideful" latino mindset that some of yalll have , once again proven in this fight that it took 5 latino 2 of which are male to take down 1 asian girl LOL

Anyeli Ospina
Anyeli Ospina

I hope this teaches people if you can't handle your alcohol can't stand looks comments or photo bomb stay home so many lives ruined by such a stupid ignorant act . Life is too short & precious

Lyndsay Mcpherson
Lyndsay Mcpherson

Oops sorry Angel Limon idk why my phone tagged you that was meant for @angelsanchez

Lyndsay Mcpherson
Lyndsay Mcpherson

Angel Limon hahah oh man your whole opinion about me is entirely wrong you dumb beaner I work two jobs and probably make more money than you ever will in your entire life, I also live in a nice house in Fullerton hills and I do not have any kids. You on the other hand probably have 5 kids from different woman and live off of food-stamps and well fare cuz that's all people like you know how to do. You're just another dirty low life uneducated asshole loser. Anyway I don't need to keep lower myself and replying to your idiotic comments you're not worth my precious time. Don't be hating because someone like me would never give you the time of day.

Kent Harrison
Kent Harrison

Angel Sanchez great example for all the other business owners in the states on how you should act. Bravo. Great example for your daughters too.

Lowell Mey
Lowell Mey

2 PUSSY makes 1 CUNT.. Hang both of them batches... Just my opinion

Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

So you are SA's finest business man using this kind of slur? interesting.

Nicole Krramer
Nicole Krramer

I am not sure how these defense attorney's sleep at night, pathetic. At the end of the day someone was killed, their walk of life does not matter, its a homicide and needs to be treated and tried like one.

Sandra Joher
Sandra Joher

I want to know why they haven't caught the guy at the end who kicks her and runs away?

Cody Zaruba
Cody Zaruba

And if there not illegal, death by firing squad boom!

Cody Zaruba
Cody Zaruba

Deport these fuckin low life ignorant society eating probably have ten kids each welfare sucking murderers

Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez

Nobody listen to @lyndsay macpherson shes a fat pig that lives in a trailer home popping out kids and has walfare

Al Torres
Al Torres

Well I guess you to wet back finally get to see where yr mother & father come from deport your ass right back to Mexico!!!!! Hope you get that !!! Hahahahaha

FiatLux
FiatLux

I have no confidence in the prosecutor and police to do their job because of theirs performance to date. Tony Pino is quite, hasn't built any public confidence while the defense lawyers mouthed-off bs and got all the air time/ coverage. For real, 11 Asian gang members chased an US Marine while a skinny beautiful college grad girl left alone to instigate a fight with bunch of scary looking people twice her size??? The under cover cop is so stupid thinking she gonna get confession from a criminal immediately after she committed her crime???  Where is the third female suspect named Amelia???  Need to bring Amelia and other suspects in for Qs? Her US Marine boyfriend if found lying should be locked up too.  The frickin idiot's story is outrageously funny/ lame...  If the management surrounding this case are all Mexicans then the case is lost already.  This is not about racial but if it goes that route, some how judge prosecutor, defend layers work out a deal, and make it favorable to one group, it will be a long term tragedy for everyone living there.  


All Kim's so called friends, FYI, you are cowards! Not too late to step into the light and tell the whole truth, regardless your circumstances.


With this kind of record, why airtime given to these bshiter attorneys.  This is CA's Bar Record of Vanesa Tapia Zavala's attorney.

KENNETH ALAN REED [#133567], 52, of Santa Ana was suspended for one year, stayed, placed on two years of probation with an actual 30-day suspension and he was ordered to take the MPRE within a year. The order took effect Jan. 20, 2011. Reed stipulated to two counts of misconduct in two matters. He failed to refund an unearned fee and he commingled funds in his client trust account. He deposited personal funds in his trust account but did not pay personal expenses from the account. He removed earned fees every month...

Nancy Gallardo
Nancy Gallardo

Its sad that some people really don't mind watching a beat down at someone else's expense... in this case LIFE. What joy is there in seeing someone hurt?

Nancy Gallardo
Nancy Gallardo

I just can't fathom why so many people around them could not intervene & try to stop this chaos. I know its a scary situation, but with so many people watching they could have stopped the hefer's beating on Kim.

Nancy Gallardo
Nancy Gallardo

Lets pray these 2 gals get what they deserve: time in jail.

hunterr83
hunterr83

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

billyboru
billyboru

Oh yeah, the single asian girl walked out of the club and picked a fight with a big group of latino's, that sounds realistic. I have been a bartender for 20 years. How about this. Pretty asian girl walks out of club, latina girls boyfriends check her out, latinas are angry. Asian girl gets beat down... to death. I have never seen a single person, male or female, pick a fight with a group of people without being forced into it. 

Don Nguyen
Don Nguyen

obliviously not gang members i can tell you that

Christopher Nguyen
Christopher Nguyen

wtf man who were the bastards that were with her didnt do shiet... fucking bastards....

John Rodriguez
John Rodriguez

HANG THOSE ANIMALS! But first rip out their female organs so they don't breed! All we need is trash breeding more trash because the fruit doesn't fall to far from the tree....

Richard Leo Ramos
Richard Leo Ramos

After seeing the video and hearing one of the defendants screaming for Pham to get off her I think Pham bit off more then she should have. Once someone is down its over. Just cause she was a writer they act like she was a saint. From what I have seen in the videos and from testimony from the security guards, Pham was a problem who started things by throwing the first blow

Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez

She hit the other girl first dude you are missing the point

Angel Sanchez
Angel Sanchez

Faggot im a business owner never driven a truck and yeah I started as a mechanic douche

007V
007V

@Angel Sanchez, That's why you moved to Texas, LOL.

tse199cheuk
tse199cheuk

says the bald ass mini me look alike

bumycac
bumycac

@jilllee just look at the majority of the folks who live there....what race are they? They tag and trash their own neighborhoods...what other race of folks would do such a thing...oh the same folks that live in Compton.

bumycac
bumycac

@michael4q2 If any one is to be blamed for cheap labor it's the folks that crosses the border.

jilllee
jilllee

@michael4q2  Don't worry, there is a reason why the trial is being held in Westminster as oppose to Santa Ana. There was no way Kim Pham would be able to get a fair trial in Santa Ana

orangelemon07
orangelemon07

angel sanchez you truly are an idiot... you make mexicans like myself look bad. really bad with that wanna be gangster mentality. you probably a paisa that always wanted to be a cholo. white tshirts and bald heads went out of style in the 90's you shuntaro. i bet somebody in your family is on welfare yet you wanna talk shit you were probably raised on that government cheese. what if that were your sister or mom that got killed in that manner?? would you still be running your cock holster this way.. no of course not. you are an IGNORANT mexican.. that makes you a WAB!!!! you pinche SHUNTARO WAB!!!!

jilllee
jilllee

@FiatLux  defense attorneys are some of the slimiest people on the planet…i know quite a few. the will prostitute their own mother for money

thiep
thiep

@jilllee @michael4q2  

On that note. There's no way Brito and Zavala will have a fair trial in Westminster where most of the city is known as Little Saigon.

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