BREAKING: Vanesa Zavala, Candace Brito Found Not Guilty of Murdering Kim Pham, Guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter

Categories: Crime-iny

Pham: RIP

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.

Email: garellano@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @gustavoarellano.

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381 comments
sumiallen1
sumiallen1

They're also guity of perjury.  I highly doubt the victim caused it unless she was really provoked.


I'm calling b.s. on that. I think these idiot uglies committed purjury in the court. 


These grossie thugs are fat sloppy b*s. Asian women might be small, but if they're mad- you don't f*** with them.  

Vietnamese girls are typically very civil and disciplined.  I'm surprised that college grads are taken to the slums for a night out- her standards were way too low. 


The fact that she was taken down only merits that she probably wasn't into fighting. Why would she? If she really wanted a fight, the victim would've held out longer.   Ask Brian Stowe.  


I also strongly believe that there's a b.s. racist cause for the slap on the wrist. 


The men who murdered Vincent Chan ended up paying $3000 in fines EACH.  Tough luck for the people who were held up to high standards as "model citizens".  


borisavich
borisavich

kicking her in the head while is down... dah f^&% what did you think was going to happen? what a bunch of bs.

1234okay
1234okay

I'm tired of the vilification simply bc our a Brown skin. I truly believe that Pham was the instigator and culprit. Pham, just like the majority of the comments posted here believe that those with brown skin can be the target of assault and comments bc "we" don't have access to a legal system that works for us. This is a wake up call for minorities to take hold of the political system in california that doesn't work for us...


My advice to brio and zavala. You should of gotten a private detective to trace pham gang ties and those of her friends, family and close acquaintance. 

markie19
markie19


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Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

A bean is far heavier than a grain of rice.

brianguy
brianguy

two against one kicking repeatedly in the head while defenseless is murder, premeditated or not.  they knew it could kill her. if a paintball gun can be declared a deadly weapon, two thugs' boots certainly can.

coocooclock
coocooclock

Stringent measures are required in order to turn this into a blessing & start by confessing Jesus is Lord...proper conduct requires to know in the first place what the hell am I talking about & indicating? A meeting with our President just turn out to make more sense than currently being provided! That's what...CooCoo

coocooclock
coocooclock

Guidelines for Manslaughter probation, 3 to 5 to 11 Low , Mid, High Plus sentencing enhancement for assault with force & likelihood to commit great bodily injury is 5 to 7. This has many options but even Moses killed a Roman Guard when he witnessed the abuse the Hebrew was taking. What's appropriate in this day and age & as a career lawyer once told me, "Who's to say what's fair?" ...Get a probation report & 90 observation first!

danamej
danamej

Well, if anyone questions whether racism is alive and thriving today...read these comments. 

coocooclock
coocooclock

My instincts tell me something fishy may have occurred after all! ... considering organ donors now!? wifisc

wifisc
wifisc

The truth is that she died in the hospital due to Brain Dead prognosis. Read and find out about the brain dead facts. She died because they needed her organs. This girls did not kill her. READ http://organfacts.net. She was an organ donor and the doctors declared her brain dead. Now, imagine... look at the horrible knockouts of the UFC, where trained fighters to hit harder than the normal person knock senseless other fighters with blows and kicks in the head. BUT, there has never been a brain dead fighter from those institutions, because it would ruin the business. Now in this case an untrained to fight or to hit hard GIRLS will have the force enough to kill someone when UFC fighters are knocked out with much much worse damage and much more force are.

People need to wake up to the truth. IF you want to reply... Please look at the facts before you voice your opinion and reply saying things that are unfunded. I will reply if there is an educated comment with facts funded on the truth.

The truth is that she was an organ donor and she was declared brain dead and her organs were harvested from her.


coocooclock
coocooclock

I'm looking back & I'm looking forward, there has been a loss of control after the fact (with some of the comments) Concerning during the fact: The lesson is "To learn to love your enemies." During the fact... to stop & think your best  insurance policy is to STOP & help someone UP, esp when they're down would have demonstrated moral issues that are still lacking. They're in now that's for sure, Brito is sorta a heart breaker, she possesses unique beauty to her own. She was the only one w/o a boyfriend I think? Anyway in order to protect your freedom, (what's left of it.) you have to use your instincts to detect it in order to avoid the repercussions & aftermath that follow. KIDS & young adults are dangerous because for instance it created beauty & the beast, there were those that were dressed to kill obviously. Is this what shopping results in more or less? What pure VANITY!  We should of while we had the chance to see more than meets the eye, there is lacking in everybody's part, esp bringing out GOD's Glory in this terrible tragedy. 

Apache Lou
Apache Lou

Shut up stupid ass bitches need to learn how to act

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

second degree murder n. a non-premeditated killing, resulting from an assault in whichdeath of the victim was a distinct possibility



these criminals got off easy 

sumiallen1
sumiallen1

@1234okay NOBODY is vilifying your skin stupid. 


When was the last time I've seen latino take responsibility for ANYTHING?  


And I'm talking about the criminals.  Like the @$$hole who tagged my car (he was caught on film, the Mexican Detective with the LAPD protects them).

Not the brown skinned people I've met while working ( latinos with good character, because we know that quality is a choice and not a DNA make up). 

Knock it off.   When was the last time white or Asian people went to the East Side to trash your hood?  Cause problems?  


Sevenhorsemen
Sevenhorsemen

@Coocooclock -Sweetheart, please don't even compare these gang bangers to Moses. It's an insult to Christians, Jews and Muslims to compare two common street thugettes to a Holy person. No justification.

mehiconoesbueno
mehiconoesbueno

@danamej 


no racism is when two mexicans decided to kill that asian girl.. try to keep up with us non-meixcans, right jose?

wifisc
wifisc

@coocooclock True, it was setup that way. Get very acquainted with it. I was an organ donor until I found out the truth. It is true that you do not need your organs once you are dead, but they don't tell death sets. There are cases in which anesthesia and morphine were administered to extirpate organs. Imagine that... on dead people? do they feel pain??? many questions that we the public are not seeing because it is well covered.

Eman64
Eman64

@wifisc  I don't discredit any of the allegations about the organ donors, but one more thing to add to this.  Annie (Kim) was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, which is NOT a trauma center!  Supposedly, UCI & Western Medical Center (the two nearest trauma centers) were "full"  on that fateful night.  Whose to say that if she was taken to a more appropriate emergency facility that she just might have pulled through?  If you don't believe me do your research on which hospital she died at. 


This entire story reeks tragedy all around. 

Apsara
Apsara

@wifisc  OMG. I read EVERYTHING. Here are a couple names for you, Steven Thorpe, Colleen Burns, SHE woke up right before they took her organs. I went then to Nailah Winkfield to see how she's doing and started crying. My brilliant father told me MANY times that NO ONE can tell with any certainty if someone is "brain dead". He hammered that into me. You did right by your daughter my friend.

LaOk
LaOk

If you're brain dead it doesnt necessarily means that your brain is dead and everything else is supposed to be dead. It means your brain stem is dead. Brain stem controls your heart, your breathing and everything else that helps you survive in this cruel world. Similar to a computer. If your central processor is dead but your monitor and keyboard are still working will u be able to look at your facebook? No u cant right? You will have to fix it or buy a new one. For the human beings CPU, how do u fix it? Or replace it? I saw comments here about that girl who was declared brain dead and improving. It means the body heal but is she really going to wake up? I hope she does really i do but it will take a miracle for her to wake up. You see Im a health worker and I've taken care patients who are brain dead. They've been brain dead for at least 15 years. They woke up open their eyes, look around, make a fist and sometimes make a sound. But never ever they focus their eyes on me when im talking to them they dont respond. They cant take care of themselves. They've been bed bounds for the rest of their lives. These two girls killed her brain stem. Her family has an option to keep her alive with those machines that helps u breathe and pump blood. Unfortunately, shes an organ donor and the family decided to keep her alive through those organ recipients instead than to see her suffer for the next 20 years or more.

Apsara
Apsara

@wifisc  I do NOT know if this is the case bro, but I'll tell you this, I'm a reader and I know enough that I will not register as an organ donor. Some rich dude might need a liver

coocooclock
coocooclock

@wifisc This seems for grounds for an appeal as it surely opened up my eyes & added a factor that's prime! 

Eman64
Eman64

@sweetliberty17761776  That is correct about second degree murder, but you aren't considering ever factor of this case. Unfortunately, Miss Pham threw the first number of punches, so because of this the charge is not second degree murder - it was considered a mutual combat by the prosecuting District Attorney!  Read up on voluntary manslaughter - a much more appropriate charge/conviction considering all the facts of the incident.  It isn't my call...it's just the way the justice system works.  These girls reacted in the "heat of passion", trying to help their friend, whom Pham was getting the best of... as they rolled around on the cement, punching each other repeatedly. 


They defendants didn't "get off easy" - they were convicted of VOLUNTARY manslaughter.  If they were convicted of INVOLUNTARY manslaughter I would agree with you that they got off easy. 


The jury's job is to weigh all the FACTS and EVIDENCE to secure a conviction.  They are given special instructions...outlining the charges and what the requirements are to secure a conviction of each charge and enhancements (if any). 


Perhaps more of us should serve our civil duties of jury duty.  This just might clear up a lot of confusion going on in these comments and replies. 

corewatersystems
corewatersystems

@sumiallen1 @1234okay These border hoppin cockroaches from south of the border NEVER fight one on one. You fight one beaner next thing you know you fight a bean burrito!!!Toe to toe, 1 on 1 they are nothin!!!

Eman64
Eman64

@Sevenhorsemen  These girls aren't gang bangers.  Yes, they're Hispanic...and from Santa Ana, but neither has an extensive criminal history OR any documented gang affiliation.  I'm not sure why most people have jumped to conclusions about this, but in all honesty do you think a gang member could make it to the age of 25/26 and not have any prior violent or gang convictions?  I sure don't.  You were right about comparing them to Moses - that was just a dumb comparison, but that's the only true statement you made. 


They made some horrible decisions that night - I cannot deny that much.  But so did the victim (God bless her soul).  Why not just leave it at that?


This incident should serve as a reminder to ALL of us...it's not worth the risk you take when you engage in any level of violence!  Things can escalate quickly (and violently).  That should be the lesson here...not name calling or profiling or making prejudice statements.  Many family members are mourning the loss of Annie (Kim)...as well as Candace and Vanessa.  Let's not forget they just might be reading these comments.  Put yourself in their shoes - how would you feel if this was one of your loved ones?  You certainly wouldn't want anyone bashing them on the internet.  They've already endured enough.


RIP Kim.

wifisc
wifisc

@LaOk You are contradicting yourself. As you said, brain dead is not dead. How can they take their organs if those people are alive? That constitutes murder. On another note, the patients that you are caring are not brain dead they are in a persistent vegetative state. as you said when the Brain stem stops working, the body stops working therefore physical death. 

There are two definitions of death according to the UDD one is cardiac death and the other is brain dead. from Wikipedia: 

Determination of Death. An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards

Now, if the second definition of death occurs, then definition 1 takes place. what is that once the brain stem stops working, circulation and respiration (oxygenation) sets and therefore physical or cardiac death takes place. People that are declared brain dead does not need any blood. all their functions are intact. Those organs need to be alive in order to be transfer to a living individual. Those organs can not be dead or else would not work. 

As far as the care... There is a complete disregard for the care of the patients. Subacute units are measured by the amount of bed sours patients get and they are turned every two hours. That makes them stiff, because they can not preposition themselves and they get more and more stiff. The food they give is just plane chemicals that keep them barely alive and has no nutrition value to allow the body to recover itself. 

Now people have woken up as you said after many years with minimum consciousness. I also read that many have woken up completely. But, there are no studies that lead to the way how those people have come back and recovered completely after many years. There are countless cases that show people that were declare brain dead and stayed in a vegetative state for a long time coming back with all their faculties. Nutrition and love are the most important ingredients to help recover someone in that condition.

wifisc
wifisc

Keep on reading because it is happening as we speak. Have you look at the scandal in Oakland about Jahi McMath. She was declared brain dead and now improving. Brain dead is supposed to be dead and never come back from it. watch this report and read about her case. I am also telling you this with a personal experience. Read my daughter's page www.katsup.org. It is happening and it is very much in progress. BRAIN DEAD DOES NOT EXIST IT IS WRONG!!! Donors are being killed on the operating table. If that was the case I would not have been able to save my daughter's life. 
Jahi's report:http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/06/20/questions-raised-over-condition-of-jahi-mcmath-after-lawyer-said-girl-is-improving/

coocooclock
coocooclock

@Eman64 @sweetliberty17761776 full circle comment that made pure sense, Thank you! I'm worried about the sentencing enhancement, that's what the other charge is. & I believe it carries 5 to 7? I hope not, then this being of a violent nature they may have to do 85% of the sentence.  : (

Mitchell_Young
Mitchell_Young topcommenter

@Eman64 @Sevenhorsemen "These girls aren't gang bangers.  Yes, they're Hispanic...and from Santa Ana, but neither has an **extensive** criminal history"


I like that *extensive* bit.

Sevenhorsemen
Sevenhorsemen

@Eman64

Do you personally know any of these ladies and can honestly state that all three did not have gang involvement in some way?

Secondly, are you affiliated with law enforcement or FBI or have connections with gangs? Some of the statements you've made are incorrect concerning gangs. It's possible to be involved without having a record, particularly if you're female and educated. Not all gang bangers have criminal records, big misconception. Unless you are a gang member, a former gang member or law enforcement, I would suggest not making assumptions about the lifestyle. No amount of research at UCI or Chapman college nor gang movie marathons makes you an expert on who's a choula or not. It's a lifestyle involving family and friends, not everyone involved has a record. Trust me. I know personally.

The three all made very poor choices. But to state that Candance and Vanessa have endured enough is victimizing them. Let's clarify it, they werent. They doubled teamed her, they knew they would f her up permanently but still kept kicking her.

And sweetheart, I've walked in those shoes for many years before deciding to grow up. I knew people who are in for life or dead for the choices they made. But they made their beds just like Candace and Vanessa. The sooner they accept responsibility for what they did, the sooner they'll have peace.

mehiconoesbueno
mehiconoesbueno

@Eman64 @mehiconoesbueno @danamej 


you seem so sure.. are you amelia?  google the treatment of chinese in mexico and tell me again why racism was not involve in this.. the mexican culture is a persisently racist one.. funny thing is, most of the world despises you cockroaches

Apsara
Apsara

@wifisc  I'd like to also say people, I retired (early) from the VA hospital. Let me tell you something about doctors. They are JUST like anybody else, 10% are EVIL 10% are BRILLIANT and the other 80%, well you know. So if your loved one is ever in Kim Pham's position, just wait...research...2nd opinion and all that.

LaOk
LaOk

Im not contradicting myself if u read the last part i said people can stay alive using the machines. They can breathe through those machines but they can no longer do the ADLs. Yes, i know the qualifications of brain dead. There are 7 by the way... So no im not contradicting. Also, when u sign up as an organ donor you state your wishes whether to keep u alive or end your life as u dont like to suffer. I'm not making an argument of whether those girls killed her. Im simply saying they killed her brain stem. U wanted the fact im only stating the fact as well.

Eman64
Eman64

@coocooclock @Eman64 @sweetliberty17761776  coocooclock, I'm not sure if your reply was intended to be sarcastic?  I think their convictions are appropriate - it's the second degree murder charge I didn't agree with.  I also feel that Emelia should be charge with some level of responsibility...as well as anyone else that struck Pham that night. 

Eman64
Eman64

@sweetliberty17761776 @Eman64  sweetliberty17761776 - Regardless of the cases you referenced, if you followed this case closely and have knowledge of the laws and juror instructions, etc. You might just understand the outcome of this case a little more.  It's unfortunate that a life was lost, but you cannot secure a second degree murder conviction based on the facts and evidence of this case.  Voluntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause GBI are the appropriate convictions - most attorneys would agree. 

isdnr88
isdnr88

@Sevenhorsemen I personally knew one of the women who was being charged, my mother drove her home after high every single day - in Irvine. She was never gan affiliated, she had a job she was a contributing member of society - her brother is in law-school... Everyone who knows her is in awe, and its a very grim reminder that this could happen to ANYONE, you stated you walked those shoes? yet YOU know nothing about these women except what the media has spoon-fed you. 

Eman64
Eman64

@Sevenhorsemen  No, I do not personally know anyone involved in this case, but neither do you or most (if not all) of the people commenting on her.  You are right that it is possible someone can be gang related and not have a record, I guess.  I don't think it's very likely though - especially the hardcore type most everyone has accused the two Latinas of being.  The point to my comments is that I truly feel this was an isolated incident for everyone involved in that brawl.  I could be wrong, I understand that much, but this case hit me close to home and I've followed it extensively for some time now. 


Regarding "victimizing" Vanessa and Candace -- I did no such thing.  I simply said that their families (as well as Kim's family) have already endured enough.  You went way out of context there! 


I do, however, completely agree with your last statement...the sooner the defendants accept responsibility for their actions, the sooner they will be at peace.  I never once said they didn't do anything wrong...obviously, a life was lost and the case needs to be treated as such.  It just upsets me that most everyone commenting here has assumed the girls are gang members.  And I have honestly found zero facts that lead me to believe they are.  This incident could have happened to just about any group of mid 20 year olds.  People are just so quick to judge and talk crap and EVERYONE is pulling the race/gang cards. 

wifisc
wifisc

To correct your comment. If the brain stem stops working then the whole body dies. All organs stop working and therefore making them unusable because they die as well. The brain stem is the most important part of the brain for maintaining life in the body. Therefore if they kill the brain stem, they would be killing the body as well. All brain dead people have their brain stem working well.

deelightful86
deelightful86

@Eman64 @mehiconoesbueno @danamej i agree with you, eman64. i have no idea where people are getting the idea that this is racially motivated. if they hated Asians, why not attack all the Asians that were present? Why did they keep targeting Kim? if people of the same race kill each other, it's just you know, murder. If people of difference races kill each other, it's automatically assumed it's....racism? 


To tell someone to google the treatment of Chinese in Mexico is anecdotal and not a full representation of all Latinos. Think of all the wars and conflict going on in the world --- it proves that people of the same race can treat each other poorly. And to say Mexican culture is a persistently racist one..lol, I'm Asian and holy crap, my parents are racist. Find me traditional Asian parents that aren't scared of blacks, mexicans. 


Alcohol and bad decisions. That would be my diagnosis of this conflict. Do you REALLY think the outcome of this situation would have been different if their races were different? The girls fought because they were drunk and made bad decisions, not because they're Mexican. 

corewatersystems
corewatersystems

@Eman64 @deelightful86 These cockroaches from south of the border NEVER fight one on one. You fight one beaner next thing you know you fight a bean burrito!!!Toe to toe, 1 on 1 they are nothin!!!

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