‘Victim of a brutal crime’: Family disputes Mexican authorities’ account of O.C. public defender’s death

A woman and a man smiling with the ocean in the background
Elliot Blair with his wife, Kim. Blair died Saturday in Rosarito, Mexico, while celebrating his first wedding anniversary.
(Blair family)

The death of an Orange County public defender at a Baja California resort last week, labeled an “unfortunate accident” by Mexican authorities, has raised several unanswered questions with little to no investigation by local police, the man’s family said in a statement.

Elliot Blair, 33, died Saturday in Rosarito while staying at the Las Rocas Resort and Spa with his wife, Kimberly Williams, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, according to a statement from his family.

The narrative presented by Mexican authorities leaves too many unanswered questions, Blair’s and Williams’ families said in a joint statement, adding that they would hire a private investigation firm and an independent forensic pathologist to conduct a medical examination and toxicology analysis.


“The family, which has extensive legal training in criminal law, wholeheartedly believes based on their initial investigation that Elliot was the victim of a brutal crime,” the statement said.

Elliot Blair’s family disputes the Mexican authorities’ report and will conduct a separate investigation into his death in Rosarito.

Jan. 17, 2023

Mexican authorities told the Orange County Register that Blair fell from “a third-story floor” and that his death was accidental. The Spanish-language publication Noticias BC reported that a man of Blair’s description fell from a fourth-floor hotel room.

But Blair’s family argues the incident occurred in an open-air walkway outside his room’s front door. He was found wearing his underwear, his sleeping T-shirt and socks, according to a family statement. Blair and Williams vacationed at the Rosarito resort multiple times over the last five years and stayed in the third-floor room, the family said.

Map of where an Orange County public defender died in Mexico
Elliot Blair, an Orange County public defender, died Saturday. He was 33.

Mexican authorities also told the Register that they are in contact with the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI, which are sharing information with Blair’s family.

But his family said no one from the Rosarito Beach Police Department or any other Mexican officials have directly contacted the family, according to the statement.


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

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.

“Elliot was a brilliant attorney with a bright future,” the family said. “Elliot’s smile was radiant and warmed the hearts of every person he came in contact with. Elliot had an innate ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Elliot was a loving husband, son and brother. Elliot’s tragic, untimely, and suspicious death has left his family and community with a huge hole in their hearts that will never be repaired.”

Blair’s and Williams’ families have only been in touch with a liaison through the coroner’s office who contacted them Sunday afternoon. The liaison said that based on the medical examiner’s office, Blair died from severe head trauma, but a toxicology report has not yet been completed. The case was forwarded to the district attorney’s office for a possible homicide investigation, according to the statement.

Blair’s family said that Mexican authorities have suggested that Blair’s body be cremated. A funeral home liaison also made the same suggestion, but Blair’s family insists that his body be preserved so it can conduct a thorough, independent investigation.

While Blair’s family has not spoken to Mexican authorities, it read in a news report that quoted officials who claimed that Blair’s death was an “unfortunate accident,” but the officials still have not spoken to the family.


Williams has been told multiple versions of what happened to Blair. Their families argue that his body was not found underneath the couple’s room’s balcony or any other balcony at the resort, and that Blair was familiar with the layout at the resort and was fluent in Spanish.

Blair’s family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Times staff writer Alexandra E. Petri contributed to this report.