SANTA ANA (CNS) - An autopsy of an Orange County deputy public defender performed in Mexico, where he died while celebrating his first wedding anniversary, characterized his death as an aggravated homicide, an attorney for his family said Thursday.
The autopsy done on 33-year-old Elliot Blair, who died last month, showed he sustained 40 fractures to the back of the skull as well as "road rash" on his knees and a toe injury, which indicated he was dragged, attorney Case Barnett said.
The results of the autopsy done in Mexico contradict statements from authorities indicating Blair died from a fall from a balcony at the Rosarito Beach resort where the couple was staying, Barnett said.
"He's not going to have a toe injury and injuries to the back of his head as a result of a fall," Barnett said.
Blair's room was about 20 to 25 feet from the ground, and he was found on his right side with his face down, so it's unlikely the injuries were sustained from a fall, Barnett said.
Blair had a blood-alcohol level of 0.10, which is two points higher than the legal limit for driving in California, but he did not show any signs of being drunk, according to his friends and wife, Barnett said.
"It was just not a fall -- it looks like he was beaten," Barnett said.
About 90 minutes before he was found dead, the couple were driving back to their hotel room when a Rosarito police officer pulled him over and shook him down for $160, Barnett said.
Blair was pulled over for rolling through a stop sign, Barnett said. The officer asked for a sum higher than $160, but they only had $160 on them so he accepted that and let them go, Barnett said. Blair told the officer he was a public defender from Orange County and let him know where they were staying, Barnett added.
"It's an event that happened that night -- it's just a fact of the night," Barnett said, adding that the family and their investigators are hesitant to read too much into the incident.
The family's investigators have been trying to obtain hotel surveillance video and more law enforcement reports about what happened as they piece together what happened to the attorney, Barnett said.
The family is attempting to set up a meeting with the local prosecutors, Barnett said.
Barnett added that Rep. Lou Correa's office "has been amazing" in helping the family gather information from Mexican authorities.
The family is also awaiting results from its own independent autopsy, which could take several more weeks, Barnett said.
The body was embalmed in a Mexican funeral home, making it a great deal more difficult to do toxicological tests, Barnett said.
Blair had been with the Public Defender's Office since 2017.