Kim Pham Trial, Day Five: Prosecution Winds Down as Pham's Friends Finish Testimony

kim_pham_vigil_wide.jpg
Photo by Ed Carrasco
Pham's friends and family at a vigil after the beating that left her brain dead (Note: the Vietnamese mourning color is white)

The Orange County District Attorney's case against Candace Brito and Vanesa Zavala for the murder of Kim Pham is expected to end as early as today, as the glut of Pham's personal friends have now finished their testimony. In total, the prosecution called over a dozen witnesses, including first responders, Santa Ana police, Pham's doctors, bouncers, Crosby patrons, and the six other people Pham was with at the Crosby that night.

Pham's friends--Dorothy Vantich, Jacqueline Dinh, Binh Dinh (Pham's ex-boyfriend), Dylan Doan (Pham's roommate), Vincent Hoang, and James Hoang--have offered most of the testimony over the past two days, and at Deputy DA Troy Pino's direction, their lines of questioning have been similar.

The early 20-somethings (wearing what could reasonably pass as slightly classy clubbing attire) described what they remember about that night (They pre-partied at Pham/Doan's house in Huntington Beach before coming to Santa Ana), viewed videos, described where they were in those videos (everywhere), what they were doing (shoving and pulling people away), and what they saw in those videos (things that could be kicks and punches from both sides).

The clearest accounts come from two of Pham's male friends: Binh Dinh and designated driver Vincent Hoang.

Dinh took the stand first, and calmly recounted the events of the night--getting to the Crosby, waiting in line, the verbal argument, and the fight. Dinh was also the closest to the fight. In videos, he can be seen standing over Pham and an unidentified woman, attempting to separate them. As he described the events of the actual fight, his voice and confident pace began to slow, momentarily seeming to waver.

However, during cross-examination, Kenneth Reed focused on parts of his testimony that apparently changed between his police interviews and his interview with the DA on July 11, two days after the trial opened. During the interview with the DA, Dinh said that though he was attempting to protect Pham, he was never hit or kicked, specifically saying that "they were kicking Pham." That was different from what Dinh told the police the night of the attack, when he told SAPD, "I didn't see anyone do it. I didn't see a punch or anything that knocked her out."

Dinh clarified that he was speaking about the videos when talking to the DA four days ago.

Hoang, the designated driver for the night took the stand later in the day. He had by far the clearest memory of the night, recounting details nearly immediately, including one that had thus been unreported: One of the men in Zavala and Brito's group had tried to separate the women before any fighting began. He also testified that he saw a kick from Brito hit Pham in the head.

With Pham's friends finished, Pino's remaining key witnesses include two brothers who were at the Crosby the night of the incident: Jason and Brian Loyola. Both have been in the court house for the past two days, and were scheduled to testify earlier but have been put on hold until the court decides whether the prosecution will be allowed to ask the brothers about a video they say they saw.

More about that in a few hours.

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