O.C. public defender’s death was an ‘unfortunate accident,’ Mexican authorities say

Map of where an Orange County public defender died in Mexico
Elliot Blair, an Orange County public defender, died Saturday while celebrating his first wedding anniversary in Rosarito, Mexico.

Initial reports indicate that the death of an Orange County public defender who was vacationing at a popular Mexican tourist destination was an “unfortunate accident,” authorities said, but the man’s family disputes the findings.

Elliot Blair, 33, died Saturday in Rosarito while celebrating his first wedding anniversary with wife Kim.

According to the Orange County Register, officials at the Baja California attorney general’s office said an autopsy report showed 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 Register also reported that Mexican authorities who are investigating Blair’s death are in contact with the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, which are sharing information with Blair’s family.


Elliot Blair, an Orange County public defender, was killed this weekend in Mexico while celebrating his first wedding anniversary.

Jan. 15, 2023

Attempts to reach the Baja California attorney general’s office on Tuesday were not successful.

A spokesperson for the State Department said the agency is aware of reports that a U.S. citizen died in Rosarito, and it stands ready to provide consular assistance. The agency declined to provide further comment.

The FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In an interview with the Register, David Scarsone, an attorney hired by Blair’s family, said the family casts doubt on the Mexican authorities’ report and plans to conduct a separate investigation.

“There are many unanswered questions,” Scarsone said.

Former Mexican security minister Genaro García Luna is on trial in Brooklyn, accused of taking bribes from ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s Sinaloa drug cartel.

Jan. 17, 2023

Scarsone did not respond to requests for an interview Tuesday.

Details about the death have been scant, although a GoFundMe campaign to help with the process of returning Blair’s body to the U.S. — launched by Annie Rodriguez, who describes herself as the couple’s friend and colleague — described it as “a brutal crime.” The Spanish-language publication Noticias BC reported that a man of Blair’s description fell from a fourth-floor hotel room. The hotel, Las Rocas Resort and Spa, is situated along the Tijuana-Ensenada freeway in Rosarito.

Blair had been with the public defender’s office since 2017, the year he passed the bar exam, and handled felony cases out of the Santa Ana office.

Martin Schwarz, an Orange County public defender, told the Register 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.”

Schwarz declined to provide additional comment Tuesday.