The family of an Orange County public defender who died in Mexico while celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary is speaking out Tuesday, calling his death a “brutal crime.”
Elliot Blair, 33, died early Saturday at Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito after authorities said he was intoxicated and fell from a fourth-floor balcony, according to Patrulla 646, a state news website. Mexico.
Blair’s family released a statement, saying his death was not an accident.
“The family, who have extensive legal training in criminal law, sincerely believe, based on their initial investigation, that Elliot was the victim of a brutal crime,” said David Scarsone, the family’s attorney.
In the statement, the family says they expected updates from Mexican authorities, but “no one from the Rosarito Beach Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, or any other Mexican authority has contacted them directly.”
The only communication the family received was through contact with the coroner on Monday, the statement said.
The contact indicated that Blair’s cause of death was severe head trauma and said the case has been referred to the district attorney’s office for a possible homicide investigation. The toxicology report had not been completed at the time, the family was informed.
Blair’s family told authorities they would conduct their own investigation through a private company and hire their own forensic pathologist to perform a medical examination and toxicology report.
“Throughout this process, Mexican authorities suggested that Elliot’s body be cremated,” Scarsone said. “During a conversation with the funeral home contact, it was again suggested that he be cremated and the family insisted that his body not be cremated in order to conduct a full, thorough and independent investigation.”
Within hours of that conversation, the family said they discovered a news article that quoted Mexican officials as calling the case an “unfortunate accident,” although those officials never contacted or confirmed that detail to them.
Blair’s wife, Kim, claims she received “various versions of what happened to Elliot” during the investigation.
The family says that Kim and Elliot have stayed at Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito numerous times over the past five years and that Elliot was “very familiar” with the resort’s layout.
Kim said the incident “did not take place on her bedroom’s private balcony, or any balcony for that matter”, and instead took place on an outdoor walkway outside her bedroom front door.
The family also claims that Elliot was not intoxicated at the time of his death and was found wearing only his underwear, nightshirt and socks.
“Due to the inadequacy of the investigation, the family feels compelled to conduct their own private investigation in pursuit of the truth,” Scarsone said.
Blair, who lived in Orange, had worked in the Public Defender’s Office since 2017.
The Orange County Register, which first reported Blair’s death, received a statement from Martin Schwarz, a colleague at the Orange County Public Defender’s Office, who said he was working with US officials to gather more information.
“We’ve been in touch with the family and are doing what we can to support them through this difficult time, including working with local and federal authorities to help provide responses,” Schwarz told the OC Register.
“Elliot was a brilliant attorney with a bright future,” his family said. “Elliot had an innate ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Eliot was a loving husband, son and brother. Elliot’s tragic, untimely and suspicious death left his family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired.”
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to support Blair’s widow, Kim, in the process of returning Blair’s body to the United States and “dealing with all the red tape,” according to organizer Annie Rodriguez.
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