WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors presenting their case against two women charged with murder showed a short cellphone video on Tuesday of a chaotic fight outside a California nightclub that left a 23-year-old woman dead.
The jumpy video shows victim Annie Hung Kim Pham wrestling with another woman on a sidewalk. As they struggle, a woman in a white blouse, black jacket and boots approaches and appears to kick Pham in the head.
Prosecutors say the kicker is Vanesa Zavala. Immediately after the kick, Pham goes limp and the clip ends with her friends lifting her by her arms as they try to carry her away.
Zavala and Candace Brito have pleaded not guilty. A judge will determine after the two-day hearing that began Monday whether there is enough evidence to order them to stand trial.
Police have reviewed three videos from bystanders. Other footage appears to show Brito kicking Pham as well before Brito is knocked to the ground by another woman.
Police are still seeking to interview a third woman, identified in court testimony as "Amelia," who they say is the person wrestling on the ground with Pham when she is kicked.
Just who started the fight outside The Crosby in the early morning hours of Jan. 18 is in dispute.
A witness told authorities the fight began after Pham started swearing at a group of people that she and her friends had bumped into outside the club, and that Pham threw the first punch.
Zavala told police that Pham's first swing hit her and the fight began.
Pham's friends countered that three women in the other group attacked Pham without provocation after they bumped into her.
Defense attorneys have repeatedly indicated that Pham's friends might have minimized her role in the fight and their involvement.
They have also been picking at the police investigation, pointing out that detectives have not positively identified another woman who can be seen on video kicking at the woman who is fighting Pham.
"You don't even know who that person is, do you? You don't even know if she's in any way connected to Ms. Pham, do you?" Brito's attorney, Michael Molfetta, said to Santa Ana police Detective Leo Rodriguez.
"You haven't investigated it because you've decided those two are guilty of murder and everybody else is a victim. That's why you haven't followed up on this, isn't it?" Molfetta said to Rodriguez, who denied the statement.
Lawyers for both sides reached an agreement on Tuesday about how to handle testimony from a homicide detective who went undercover while wearing a wire and got Zavala to talk about the fight.
The attorneys accepted as evidence for the preliminary hearing only that Zavala told Detective Patricia Navarro, "'She hit me first. I acted in self-defense.'"
On Monday, Judge Thomas J. Borris ordered Navarro to stop her testimony after she acknowledged going undercover as an inmate to record Zavala after she had requested a lawyer.
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.