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Detective: Witness says slain woman attacked first

By Gillian Flaccus / Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:57 p.m. HST, Feb 10, 2014

WESTMINSTER, Calif. » A witness told authorities that a 23-year-old woman who died after being beaten outside a Southern California nightclub instigated the fight by shouting obscenities and throwing the first punch after she and her friends bumped into another group exiting the trendy bar, a police detective testified Monday.

According to one witness, Annie Hung Kim Pham began swearing and was restrained by friends as the other group walked away, Santa Ana police Detective Roland Andrade said at a preliminary hearing to determine whether two women should stand trial in the case. When the opposing group of two men and three women returned, Pham threw the first punch, Andrade quoted the eyewitness as saying.

The account differs dramatically from that of Pham's friends, who told police that three women assaulted Pham, 23, without provocation after the two groups bumped into each other outside The Crosby nightclub in Santa Ana in the early morning hours of Jan. 18.

The hearing will resume Tuesday for Vanesa Zavala and Candace Brito, who have pleaded not guilty to murder.

Police are still investigating a third woman as a person of interest and have reviewed three cellphone videos of the fight.

Defense attorneys said Monday that the third, unidentified woman was actually the person who began fighting with Pham.

It was only after the two fell to the ground, pulling each other's hair and punching, that Brito, who was the unidentified woman's friend, kicked Pham in the head, Detective Matthew Mcleod said on the stand, summarizing the testimony of an eyewitness who also shot cellphone video.

Zavala then also kicked at Pham, after which Pham went limp and lost consciousness, he said.

Both women were picked out of a police photo lineup.

Kenneth Reed, an attorney for Zavala, introduced the idea that Pham's friends might have minimized their involvement and Pham's role in the fight.

"You just kind of took the story — 'She got beat' — and you just kind of took the statements of these friends of hers?" Reed said. "Fighting means fighting, more than one person fighting, right?"

Pham, who went by the first name Kim, graduated from Chapman University last year and would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary last month. She was an aspiring writer whose work was published online and in an anthology of works by Vietnamese-American writers.

Pham was taken off life support after the beating. The coroner listed Pham's cause of death as blunt force injury of the head.

She had bleeding in her brain, two blackened eyes and contusions behind her left ear and on the right side of her head, said Dr. Etoi Davenport, a coroner's forensic pathologist.

Also Monday, the judge halted testimony from a police detective after she said she wore a wire and went undercover as a female inmate to get Zavala to talk even though Zavala had already asked for an attorney.

Detective Patricia Navarro was ordered back to court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear what the judge will do with her existing testimony.

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sailfish1 wrote:
Instead of trying to break up the fight, the two other women started kicking the woman - clearly uncivilized behavior. The others friends on both sides also did nothing to stop the fight. They are clearly the lowest of the low class.
on February 10,2014 | 06:30PM
So nice to see you sitting up on God's lap of the "high-class". I'm not condoning the fighting, but who are YOU to label a person. Let he without sin cast the 1st stone. AND THERE GOES SAILFISH TOSSING THE FIRST STONE!> what an .....
on February 11,2014 | 09:19AM
GooglyMoogly wrote:
I love your first sentence.
on February 11,2014 | 09:25AM
Tanx, but I get a little weary reading how peoples' behavior changes over time. We were all young once, doing young stupid things. With any luck, we learn the right and stay on track, while others lose their way. It just simply amazes me how many peoplr are able to stay on the right path and never lose their way. Those of us who were fortunate to stay on the path of righteousness are few, for many who were fortunate to not get caught, then God has been looking out for you and you should feel grateful.
on February 11,2014 | 11:48AM
SteveToo wrote:
Don't be bringing in no religious stuff into this civil case. I mean "shoots"......
on February 11,2014 | 05:07PM
SteveToo wrote:
Don't be bringing in no religious stuff into this civil case. I mean "shoots"......
on February 11,2014 | 05:06PM
Skyler wrote:
So what she threw the first punch? Hardly a reason to kick her in the head - TWICE.
on February 10,2014 | 06:53PM
NiteMarcher wrote:
Since these two could dish it out, they'll have to learn how to take it also--like in being put away for awhile.
on February 10,2014 | 11:55PM
lokela wrote:
Yup wasn't a fair fight. Those involved in the kicking should be locked up. Both sides could have pulled them apart. Who knows could have had some racial motivations.
on February 11,2014 | 05:39AM
krusha wrote:
Sounds like a case of what happens when you're full of alcohol and looking for a fight. I remember my days in college when we used to get into fights all the time at bars. Usually when a fight starts, you don't back down if you had a few too many to drink.
on February 11,2014 | 05:59AM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Oh please.
on February 11,2014 | 06:42AM
Mike174 wrote:
Women acting like macho boys. Totally no style. Further evidence of societal degradation.
on February 11,2014 | 06:08AM
MauiFriend wrote:
Use some common sense -- What is the size of the victim and the size of her alleged attackers? Have any of the alleged assailants been charged with assault in the past? When does it become okay in any fight to kick someone in the head while lying down? Even MMA fights have rules for good reason. Last question: where were the alleged victim's friends? They're not the kind of friends I'd choose. Choose your friends wisely.
on February 11,2014 | 05:03PM
SteveToo wrote:
Also Monday, the judge halted testimony from a police detective after she said she wore a wire and went undercover as a female inmate to get Zavala to talk even though Zavala had already asked for an attorney. Now that was real "smart" for the cops to do. Lolo's
on February 11,2014 | 05:05PM
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