Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Family of Public Defender Claims His Death Was `Brutal Crime,' Not Accident

Photo: Go Fund Me

SANTA ANA (CNS) - An attorney for the family of an Orange County deputy public defender who died in Mexico while celebrating his first wedding anniversary released a statement Tuesday calling into question whether the lawyer was the victim of a "brutal crime" or an accident.

"The family of Elliot Blair is absolutely reeling from the tragic death of this amazing young man who was in Rosarito Beach celebrating his first wedding anniversary," according to the statement from attorney David Scarsone.

The family "wholeheartedly believes based on their initial investigation that Elliot was the victim of a brutal crime."

The family had delayed making a statement as it was "hopeful of promised information by the Mexican authorities. However, it appears that information isn't going to be directly disseminated to the family."

Blair, 33, died early Saturday. He had been with the Public Defender's Office since 2017.

The family said they have not gotten any word directly from Rosarito Beach police, the local prosecutor's office "or any other Mexican officials," according to Scarsone.

The family has only been in touch with a "liaison" to the local coroner's office, he said. About 2 p.m. Monday the liaison "indicated that the cause of death was severe head trauma and that the case had been forwarded to the district attorney's office to conduct a possible homicide investigation," Scarsone said.

The family told the liaison they intended to conduct an independent investigation, which would include a private investigation firm and a forensic pathologist, Scarsone said.

Hours later the family said it saw a news article quoting "Mexican officials" saying the death appeared to be owed to an "unfortunate accident," according to Scarsone.

The attorney said Blair's wife, Kim, has been told "multiple versions of what happened to Elliot."

Scarsone said the couple had stayed at Las Rocas Resort and Spa multiple times over the past five years and that Blair was a "fluent Spanish- speaker."

The two had stayed in the room where they were at this weekend multiple times before so Blair "was very familiar with the layout of" the resort, Scarsone said.

"The incident did not occur off their room's private balcony, nor any balcony, for that matter," Scarsone said. "The incident occurred in an open-air walkway located outside the front door of their room at Los Rocas Resort and Spa."

Blair was not drunk at the time, Scarsone said.

The public defender "was found in his underwear, his sleeping T-shirt and socks," Scarsone said.

The authorities and a representative of a local funeral home have "suggested" cremating the body, Scarsone said. The family, however, wants to be able to conduct its own autopsy of the body.

"Elliot was a brilliant attorney with a bright future," Scarsone said in the statement. "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."

A Go Fund Me campaign has been started for Blair's family, with funds going toward helping his wife to bring his body back to the US for burial. As of this morning it has raised more than $82,000.

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