POSTED: 7:24 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 8:55 a.m. HST, Jan 29, 2014
SANTA ANA, Calif. >> Prosecutors on charged a second woman with murder in a fatal beating outside a Southern California nightclub, while hundreds gathered to mourn the 23-year-old woman she stands accused of killing.
Candace Brito pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Orange County Superior Court in the death of Annie Hung Kim Pham.
An argument between Pham and other clubgoers escalated into violence Jan. 18 outside The Crosby, a Santa Ana nightspot, where several bystanders recorded the incident on cellphones.
Pham, a recent college graduate and an aspiring writer, was declared brain dead but remained on life support until Jan. 21 so her organs could be donated.
At the memorial service later Tuesday, Pham's uncle spoke of that organ donation as an example of the generosity of the woman who was known within her church as Theresa Annie Kim Pham and known to friends as Kim.
He and others at the memorial and a cremation service also spoke of the need for forgiveness.
"We pray for the soul of Theresa," Pham's uncle said, according to the Orange County Register. "We pray for her friends. We pray for those who beat her."
Another woman, 25-year-old Vanesa Zavala, pleaded not guilty to murder last week and police were seeking a third woman as a person of interest.
After Tuesday's arraignment of Brito, who was being held on $1 million bail, her lawyer called Pham's death "stupid, mindless and senseless" but denied his client's involvement in any physical confrontation and said the blame was being misplaced on one side.
"Throughout the course of all of this," the attorney, Michael Molfetta, said, "Ms. Pham has been anointed a saint and people on the other side ... have been vilified internationally. That's irresponsible, and that's wrong. And the evidence is going to bear that out."