The California lawyer who was killed in Mexico while on a trip with his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary died as a result of an “unfortunate accident,” officials ruled – despite claims of criminality by his family.
Orange County assistant public defender Elliot Blair, 33, died Saturday in Rosarito Beach, on the Baja Peninsula just south of the northern border with the US at Tijuana, according to county Public Defender Martin Schwarz.
His family and colleagues have claimed on a GoFundMe page that the young attorney “was the victim of a brutal crime.”
However, the Baja California Attorney General’s Office ruled after an autopsy that Blair’s death appeared to be the “result of an unfortunate accident from a fall by the now deceased from a third-story floor,” the Orange County Register reported.
Blair and his wife, Kim, a fellow public defender, were staying at the luxury Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito, about 40 miles south of San Diego, when he died.
Mexican authorities said in a brief statement cited by the Register that the investigation is ongoing and that they are in contact with the US Justice Department and the FBI.
David Scarsone, an attorney for the family, expressed skepticism that Blair simply fell off the third-floor balcony and said he would conduct a separate probe.
“There are many unanswered questions. (The family) is pushing back on that conclusion (by Mexican authorities),” Scarsone told the paper.
Local authorities told news outlet Patrulla 646 Código Rojo that hotel workers called police about 1:15 a.m. after finding Blair’s body, the Register reported.
Investigators claimed to have found evidence that Blair was under the influence of alcohol at the time of his death, the outlet reported.
John Jenks, a private investigator who has worked with Blair said it felt like a “gut punch” when he heard about his death.
“He knew the law, he was well prepared, his courtroom presentation was outstanding, down to earth, relatable, and he knew the cases inside and out,” Jenks told NBC Los Angeles.
“I don’t have the words to capture how badly I feel for his colleagues, for his wife, for his family,” he said, adding that regardless how Blair died, the loss is “heartbreaking.”
Jenks mourned the “good, caring and compassionate man who really played a significant role in people’s lives that he represented.”
The fundraiser said the couple “have been dedicated Public Defenders in Orange County” since 2017, the year Elliot passed the bar exam.
“Elliot was known as a patient and caring advocate. He was the best of us and was loved by countless members of our office and the Orange County legal community. We are heartbroken,” the post said.
“Elliot was known for a smile on his face and a clever mind. There are not enough words to express the level of love he had for Kim. Kim was his life,” it continued.
“They just started building a life together in their first year of marriage. Elliot was killed on their one year wedding anniversary. Kim’s heart is shattered,” the GoFundMe page added.