Orange County public defender dies while on vacation in Mexico; family believes he was killed

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
OC public defender found dead in Mexico; family believes he was killed
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An investigation is underway after the death of an Orange County public defender who was visiting a hotel resort in Mexico to celebrate his first wedding anniversary.

ROSARITO, Mexico (KABC) -- An investigation is underway after the death of an Orange County public defender who was visiting a hotel resort in Mexico to celebrate his first wedding anniversary, according to local law enforcement officials.

Elliot Blair visited Las Rocas Resort and Spa with his wife, Kim Williams, in the Baja California coastal city of Rosarito. He was found dead on the day before their wedding anniversary, on Jan. 14, hours after he and his wife had gone out to dinner and dancing.

While officials initially believed the American died from a four-story fall at the resort, there was a specific injury on Blair's forehead "that would not have been caused by a fall," one official said.

WATCH: Officials focus on specific injury after OC public defender found dead in Mexico

From the necropsy of law and technical opinion it is established that the death of Mr. Elliot Blair, was the result of an unfortunate accident due to the fall of the deceased from a third floor.

The Attorney General's Office of Baja California later released a statement saying that based on an autopsy and "technical opinion, it is established that the death of Mr. Elliot Blair was the result of an unfortunate accident due to the fall of the deceased from a third floor." The Attorney General's Office "is in communication with the American authorities through the United States Department of Justice and the FBI, who are collaborating and have the information about the investigation to provide it to the relatives who require it," the statement said.

The Williams family, meanwhile, said they have hired their own investigator as they grieve.

"We have reasons to believe, and evidence, that there was possible foul play" but don't want to compromise the investigation, the family told ABC7.

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Blair is survived by his wife, who is also a public defender.

John Jenks, a private investigator and expert witness who worked with Blair in the past, remembered him as "just a wonderful man -- caring, compassionate. I saw the headline and I went, 'Oh, my God.' What a tragedy. What a loss.

"I always appreciate attorneys that care about their clients, and care about justice, and that fight ardently for their clients' best interests. And that was Elliot."

A spokesperson from the Orange County public defender's office, Martin Schwarz, told ABC7 that Blair was a "devoted husband, terrific person and a fantastic lawyer who dedicated his life to serving his clients and helping the county's most vulnerable."

"He impacted countless lives and his loss will be felt deeply by all who knew him," Schwarz added. "We have been in communication with the family and are doing what we can to support them in this difficult time, including working with local and federal officials to help provide them with answers."

A GoFundMe page has been created in memory of Blair.

"All donated funds will be used by Kim and Elliot's family in their search for answers and to help Kim with any personal finances as she grieves her Elliot," the fundraiser's organizer said in a statement.