BREAKING: Vanesa Zavala, Candace Brito Found Not Guilty of Murdering Kim Pham, Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter
See the bottom of this post for any updates.
ORIGINAL POST, 3:39 P.M.: Weekly reporter Charles Lam is at the Central Courthouse and just texted that Candace Brito and Vanesa Zavala have been found not guilty of the second-degree murder of Kim Pham, who died outside a nightclub in Santa Ana earlier this year. The two defendants, however, were both found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.
More--much more--to come later today. And make sure to pick up the paper next week, as our cover will be devoted to the Kim Pham case in its entirety.
UPDATE: July 24, 2014 4:31 p.m. from Charles Lam:
Responses from the courtroom were muted today, as the verdicts were read. Several jurors, friends of Pham, and defendants Candace Brito and Vanesa Zavala wept as they listened to the clerk. Everyone else was more or less silent.
After the court cleared, Kim's father, Dung Pham, spoke briefly with the media:
"I think the verdict . . . We have to honor the jury decision," he said. "It's not win; it's not loss. It's not happy; it's not sad."
Pham showed empathy for the defendants. "When I see Miss Brito and Miss Zavala cry, I was sad," he said. "Like I said, 'Nobody win, nobody lost.'"
Defense attorney Michael Molfetta was pleased with the manslaughter conviction and said he knew that Brito would be found not guilty of murder the moment the charges were filed.
We also spoke with one juror following the closure of the courtroom. The gray-bearded resident of Orange had been a Marine and was the only juror to believe the defendants were guilty of involuntary manslaughter, until he went over the transcripts.
"I had trouble with the defendants realizing that they could cause the murder," he said. "The vast majority of the times you kick people, they don't die."
He changed his mind, however, when he looked through his transcripts and saw that both women had admitted they knew that kicking someone in the head could kill them.
"I would've held out more if they hadn't admitted to that," he said.
Zavala and Brito are scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9. They face between three and 11 years for the charge of voluntary manslaughter and between five and seven years for the charge of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, with an enhancement for causing great bodily injury.