SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Two women were convicted Thursday of kicking a third woman to death during a fight outside a Santa Ana nightclub.
Candace Brito, 27, and Vanesa Zavala, 26, were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury for the Jan. 18 attack outside The Crosby in Santa Ana.
Superior Court jurors chose to convict the women of the lesser charge instead of second-degree murder.
Prosecutors said the women kicked Annie Kim Pham in the head after she was knocked down during a fight. Pham, 23, died after being taken off life support two days after the attack.
A forensic pathologist who conducted Pham’s autopsy ruled the cause of death was blunt force injury to the head but said it was impossible to tell whether one specific blow or even a combination of blows caused the fatal brain bleeding.
During the trial, Etoi Davenport testified that Pham could have died as a result of being punched or kicked, or from hitting her head on the sidewalk. The pathologist said Pham received six major blows to the head.
At a preliminary hearing, witnesses testified that Pham and her group of 11 friends were waiting in line to get into the club as Brito, Zavala and several of their friends were exiting. At some point, the groups bumped into each other.
One witness told authorities that Pham started swearing and threw the first punch. But Pham’s friends told police the three women in the other group attacked Pham without provocation.
Jurors were shown cellphone videos of the beating.
Brito’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, told jurors that Pham started a fistfight with another woman, Emilia Calderon. He said it wasn’t proven that his client — a friend of Calderon’s — kicked Pham during scuffling involving several people.
Zavala’s attorney, Kenneth Reed, argued that his client didn’t kick Pham and that punches from other people might have killed her.