For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO WOMEN TO FACE TRIAL FOR BEATING-MURDER OF FEMALE PATRON OUTSIDE SANTA ANA BAR
SANTA ANA – Two women are expected to face trial tomorrow for the beating-murder of a female patron outside a Santa Ana bar. Candace Marie Brito, 27, and Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 26, both of Santa Ana, are each charged with one felony count of murder and one felony count of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury. If convicted, they each face a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison. Opening statements are expected to begin tomorrow morning, Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Department C-45, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana. The time is to be determined.
During the early morning hours on Jan. 19, 2014, 23-year-old victim Annie Pham was involved in a mutual combat with a friend of defendants Brito and Zavala outside a restaurant and bar formally known as The Crosby in downtown Santa Ana. Brito and Zavala are accused of being involved in a verbal altercation with the victim and physically assaulting her with their hands and fists as the victim was fighting with the defendants’ friend. Brito and Zavala are accused of murdering Pham by kicking the victim in the head as she was on the ground fighting the defendants’ friend on the sidewalk. Portions of the attack were captured on cell phone video as the victim’s friends and a security guard unsuccessfully attempted to intervene.
Witnesses at the scene called 911. Paramedics arrived and transported Pham to St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, where she was put on life support. Pham was considered brain dead from blunt force trauma injuries suffered during the attack and was removed from life support on Jan. 21, 2014.
The Santa Ana Police Department investigated this case.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.