The defense in the Kim Pham trial rested today after testimony by Candace Brito, one of the two defendants in the murder case and the only witness to take the stand today. Closing arguments will be made tomorrow. The jury is expected to begin deliberations tomorrow afternoon or Wednesday morning.
Defense attorney Michael Molfetta sought to minimize his client's prior run-ins with the law (Brito had an expunged juvenile shoplifting conviction and one misdemeanor conviction from giving the police a false name after being pulled over). Mirroring the defense of co-defendant Vanesa Zavala, he characterized Brito as a scared woman trying to defend her friends in a fight she by all accounts didn't start.
"Did you know where Vanesa was?" Molfetta asked Brito during his initial questioning.
"No," she answered.
"Did you know where Emilia was?"
"Did you know where Mike was?"
"Did you know where A.J. was?"
"No," Brito said. "I was just worried about my friends because I just saw a bunch of men around them. I was worried about what was going on. . . . I was scared. I just felt like we were alone."
During questioning, Brito acknowledged she kicked at Kim Pham, but, she said, she never kicked at Pham's head.
Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino followed the same script in cross-examining Brito as he did with co-defendant Vanesa Zavala, though without as many theatrics. He spent the bulk of his time highlighting discrepancies between Brito's testimony and her interviews with police, including how during testimony she said she was a victim of assault, but during her interview with the police, she did not once mention it.
"You, the victim of an assault, stopped the conversation [with the police]?" Pino asked.
He eventually played a recording of an interview between the Santa Ana Police Department and Brito that took place in Brito's driveway soon after the fight. During the recording, Brito seems defensive, insisting that while she was at the Crosby the night of the alleged murder, she was not involved in anything and could not have appeared in video of the fight.
On redirect examination, Zavala's attorney, Kenneth Reed, stressed the time frame in which the events happened, much as he did in his defense of his client, and gave a plausible reasoning as to why Brito might lie to the police (she wanted to speak to her attorney).
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After Brito left the stand, Molfetta declined to call any other witnesses, and the defense rested its case.
The jury will be back in court for instructions tomorrow morning.