Two office workers convicted in the high-profile death of a 23-year-old Huntington Beach woman who collapsed after a fight outside a Santa Ana nightclub were sentenced Friday to six years in state prison.
A jury found Candace Brito, 27, and Vanesa Zavala, 26, guilty of voluntary manslaughter and assault in July. They were acquitted of a second-degree murder charge in the death of 23-year-old Kim Pham, who died in January, three days after a melee outside The Crosby nightclub, which has since closed.
Brito and Zavala, accused of kicking Pham in the head, had each faced up to 11 years in prison. They appeared in a Santa Ana courtroom for their sentencing hearing Friday morning.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals said the case represents a parent’s worst nightmare.
He asked the defendants why they — or the victim — hadn’t simply walked away from the fight that left Pham motionless on the ground.
“You’re not gang members. You’re not fighters. You had been essentially law-abiding, nice young women,” the judge said, the Associated Press reported. “And yet … you were all in the fight up to your elbows. If any of you had just swallowed your pride and walked away none of us would be sitting here.”
Trial testimony revealed that Pham threw the first punch, escalating a verbal argument that started when a friend of Brito and Zavala bumped into Pham’s group.
When Pham began fighting with the friend, Brito and Zavala in turn assaulted Pham. Cellphone video of the fight drew national attention to the case.
Brito and Zavala fatally kicked Pham in the head, according to the prosecutor.
Attorneys for the defendants argued they were acting in self-defense.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office referred to the fight as “mutual combat.”
At Friday’s hearing, Pham’s father, brother and sister testified.
“The damage Brito and Zavala have caused is unrepairable. A part of myself died with her,” Pham’s sister said, according to the DA’s office.
Pham’s father told the court that dying would be easier than living without his daughter, but his religious beliefs prevent him from killing himself.
KTLA’s Chip Yost and Jacqueline Sarkissian contributed to this article.