Nightclub Murder Case: Detective Questioned Suspect After Miranda Rights Were Invoked

Posted: February 12, 2014 in Justice, News
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Witnesses told the court during a pretrial hearing that Annie Hung Kim Pham, 23, who was beaten to death outside a Southern California nightclub, was kicked in the head at least twice after she fell to the ground during a fight with another woman.  Who started the fight is currently in dispute.  The pretrial hearing is to determine whether Vanesa Zavala and Candace Brito should stand trial for murder, both have pled not guilty.

Police are still investigating a third woman who may have been involved in the fight outside of The Crosby Nightclub in Santa Ana, California on January 18th.  On Monday, the testimony of Detective Patricia Navarro was stopped by Superior Court Judge Thomas Borris after she revealed on the stand that she entered the jail undercover, wearing a wire, in an attempt to get Zavala to talk about the case after Zavala had invoked her Miranda rights.  Her testimony was expected to resume Tuesday.

A witness told authorities that Pham started swearing at a group of people that she bumped into outside the club and Pham threw the first punch.  Pham’s friends say that the three women attacked Pham without provocation.  Detective Matthew Mcleod testified Monday that a witness who recorded the scuffle on a cellphone told police that Brito kicked Pham in the head after she and another woman fell to the ground as they punched one another.  The detective testified that Zavala also kicked Pham causing her to lose consciousness.

She was taken off life support not long after the fight and her cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head.  Brito and Zavala were arrested after being picked out of a photo lineup.  Defense attorneys revealed Monday in court that it was the third woman, who had been scuffling with Pham, who was still being investigated.

Kenneth Reed, an attorney for Zavala, introduced the idea that Pham’s friends might have minimized their involvement and Pham’s role:  “You just kind of took the story — ‘She got beat’ — and you just kind of took the statements of these friends of hers?  Fighting means fighting, more than one person…right?”


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