Kim Pham actively involved in starting fight, defense attorneys say

SANTA ANA, Calif.

Candace Brito, 27, and Vanesa Zavala, 25, are both charged in the murder of Kim Pham outside The Crosby on Jan. 18. They both pleaded not guilty.

Police have identified a third woman who was named a "person of interest," but they have not released her identity. Investigators say they plan to interview her.

Prosecutors say cellphone video of the incident clearly shows the three women kicking and punching Pham, who was declared brain dead and was removed from life support several days later.

"There's no question in my mind," said prosecutor Troy Pino.

Defense attorneys, however, insist Pham was actively involved in starting the bar fight.

"It was a melee. It was very, very, very explosive. And it's unfortunate somebody died as a result of it. She certainly didn't deserve it, but she certainly did her part in instigating it," said defense attorney Michael Molfetta.

Prosecutors say it doesn't matter who started it.

"The blows that were administered, the victim was on the ground, so it doesn't matter how it got to that point. She was then vulnerable, and any assault at that point was unjustified," said Pino.

Prosecutors also say the beating has been mischaracterized. When cellphone video of the fight viral, some people believed no one stepped in to help. Prosecutors say while some did nothing but record with their cellphones, up to 15 others tried to intervene.

"There were plenty of people who got involved and tried to stop this altercation. Plenty of people -- security guards, friends of the victim, bystanders," Pino said.

The investigation is ongoing. If you have any information or took video of the incident, you're urged to contact the Santa Ana Police Department's Crimes Against Persons Unit at (714) 245-8390. You can also call OC Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.

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