Candace Marie Brito, 27, is scheduled to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
Brito’s arrest was announced Friday by Santa Ana police, who did not identify her citing the ongoing investigation.
EARLIER: SANTA ANA – A second suspect arrested in connection with the beating death of a woman outside a popular Santa Ana nightclub is “petrified and confused,” her attorney said Monday.
“She didn’t do a thing wrong,” criminal defense lawyer Michael Molfetta said of the 27-year-old Santa Ana woman, whose identity has not yet been released by police and who has not been charged.
Police said they believe the second suspect and another woman, as well as Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 25, of Santa Ana, who was arrested last week, made “physical contact” with Annie Kim Pham, 23, outside The Crosby restaurant and bar in downtown Santa Ana after some kind of argument escalated into a fight in the predawn hours of Jan. 18.
Sgt. Javier Esparza of the Santa Ana Police Department said Monday that investigators continue to interview witnesses and are seeking to question a third woman described as a “person of interest.” They also are looking for two men who are sought for questioning but not considered suspects. The men may have been involved in a separate altercation outside The Crosby.
Molfetta declined to name his client. But he did describe her as having no prior trouble with the law and, like Pham, who was recently married and studied psychology at Chapman University and aspired to become a writer, she was working regularly.
The woman, held since Friday on suspicion of murder, must be arraigned or set free by Tuesday.
Pham was taken off life support on Jan. 21. An autopsy concluded that she died of complications from blunt-force trauma to her head.
A funeral Mass for Pham, who recently moved to Huntington Beach from her family’s home in Westminster, will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Westminster.
“We welcome all to attend Kim’s funeral to pray and share her love with us,” Pham’s family posted on the Facebook page “Justice for Kim Pham,” which on late Monday had more than 27,000 followers.
The funeral will come three days before Pham would have celebrated her first wedding anniversary. She and Giang Ngokhanh, 23, were married on his birthday, Jan. 31, according to Orange County marriage certificate records.
The details of what happened leading up to Pham’s death remain unclear. Officials have not determined a motive for the fight that played out in front of more than 50 people lined up to get into The Crosby.
Molfetta said again Monday what he has said previously, that Pham threw the first punch after someone in Zavala’s group inadvertently bumped into Pham.
“She (herself) got knocked down with a bunch of people coming out,” he said of his client. “She was not involved in any shape or form in any altercation with anybody.”
Police have not yet offered an alternate version of the incident. Detectives are reviewing at least three different videos of the fight, one of which shows a security guard trying to separate Pham and the women believed to have beaten her.
Zavala pleaded not guilty to murder last week and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Orange County Jail. Her attorney, Ken Reed, has said Zavala is innocent.
Molfetta said his client was among friends of Zavala who were at the restaurant to celebrate a birthday.
Molfetta said he expects his client to be arraigned Tuesday, but does not know the specific charge.
She has no criminal record, he said, and “she’s the type of person who’s been working on a 401 (k) since she was 18.”
Molfetta added that she was born in another state but raised in Irvine and graduated from Woodbridge High School. She is single, her mother lives in the area and her father passed away several years ago. Molfetta said his client currently works in an office and attends Santa Ana College.
She hopes to become a paralegal.
BY VIK JOLLY, DENISSE SALAZAR AND CLAUDIA KOERNER / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced Orange County Bail Bondsman to assist you in any bail situation.