Mexican autopsy shows injuries to dead OC lawyer did not come from a fall, family says

A Mexican autopsy revealed Orange County lawyer Elliot Blair suffered injuries suggesting he had possibly been dragged, conflicting with the official conclusion that he died in a drunken fall from a third-story hotel walkway, his family said Thursday, Feb. 9.

The official autopsy report and photos, obtained by Blair’s family, showed scrapes or floor burns on his knees that are inconsistent with a simple fall, according to the family’s attorney, Case Barnett. Bruising on Blair’s left forearm could have been defensive wounds, Barnett added.

The official cause of death in Mexico was “traumatic brain injury.”

The autopsy file has been reviewed by the family’s expert, Dr. Rami Hashish, a Santa Monica-based specialist in body performance and injury who advised Barnett. Results of a private autopsy by an Anaheim doctor are pending, although the family was told that the independent report will show Blair had 40 fractures to the back of his skull, Barnett said.

The new revelations are fueling the family’s belief that the 33-year-old deputy public defender was murdered Jan. 14 outside his room at the Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito Beach. Blair had a blood alcohol level of 0.10, above California’s 0.08 limit for driving, according to a copy of the Mexican autopsy obtained by the Southern California News Group. Mexican authorities said he was in the hotel hallway in his underclothes late at night apparently shooing noisy pigeons.

His wife, Kimberly Williams — also a deputy public defender — said the story does not fit with Blair’s personality.

“A fall does not make sense,” Williams said in an interview Thursday with the Southern California News Group. “Elliot being drunk and chasing pigeons does not make sense.” She estimated Blair had five or six drinks over a six-hour period that day.

“I’ve never seen him stumble drunk. … I’ve never seen him not be able to take care of himself,” she said. “We weren’t down there to party. We were there to celebrate our (first) anniversary. Drinking wasn’t a priority.”

She added: “He was meticulous. Everything he did, he put his whole heart and soul into it.”

Police at the scene had initially told Williams there was a bullet hole in Blair’s head, but later recanted after the autopsy there. The investigation was originally opened as an “aggravated homicide.”

On Wednesday, the Southern California News Group first reported that two Rosarito police officers extorted the couple for money during a traffic stop less than two hours before Blair’s body was found about 12:50 a.m. Williams said police pulled over their 2009 Chevrolet Silverado truck for allegedly rolling through a stop sign.

Counseled by Blair not to engage with Mexican police, Williams remembered staring at the dashboard while her husband negotiated with officers. They wanted more money than the couple had in their wallets. Blair and Williams showed police their identification cards as members of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office.

Blair, who spoke fluent Spanish, told officers “we’re attorneys. We’re not down here being reckless. We’re not going to be taken advantage of,” Williams said.

She said Blair told officers where they were staying, offered to go to the police station, pay with a credit card and get a receipt. The officers declined and accepted all the cash the couple had, $160.

“We were driving away and it was shock, thank God they didn’t do something more to us,” Williams said.

The family isn’t accusing Rosarito police of involvement in Blair’s death, but wants the shakedown investigated like any other fact in the case, Barnett said.

The day of Blair’s death, the time spent celebrating, was “magical,” Williams recalled. Mexico was Blair’s happy place. It is where he proposed to Williams, with a ring made by the same Los Angeles jeweler who crafted his mother’s wedding ring. It is where he held his bachelor party. Where the couple was married, at an Ensenada winery.

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On his last day alive, Blair and Williams ate breakfast along the water. They watched the sunset, got a couple’s message, danced to live music, ate lobster at Blair’s favorite restaurant. He called Williams by all his favorite nicknames. Silly names that made sense only to them, such as “Sweetheart, sweetpie, luvalumpa, wompastompa — said all together, at once.

And then he was gone.

“I’m still numb and in shock,” Williams said. “I don’t ever think I’ll be able to go down to Mexico now. Even the thought of Mexican food makes me sick to my stomach, and that’s my favorite food.”

Making it all the more difficult is that Mexico once gave Blair peace.

“You cross the border and all the stress of work and all the stress of life went away,” Williams said. “It was our happy place.”

It’s also the reason Williams can no longer sleep in a bed.

“The last time I slept in a bed, I was woken up in the middle of the night by two (resort employees) in my hotel room, telling me to come outside because my husband is dead.”

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