Death of California public defender in Mexico under investigation

Elliot Blair went to Mexico with his wife to celebrate their anniversary.

January 17, 2023, 10:56 PM

MEXICO CITY and LONDON -- Mexican authorities said Monday that the recent death of an American tourist appears to be "an unfortunate accident."

U.S. citizen Elliot Blair died on Jan. 14 at Las Rocas Resort and Spa, located on the shores of Rosarito Beach, just south of Tijuana, along the western coast of Mexico's Baja California peninsula. While investigators initially believed that Blair died from a fall, there is a specific injury on his forehead "that would not have been caused by a fall," a local law enforcement official told ABC News on Monday.

However, the State Attorney General's Office of Baja California later released a statement saying an autopsy established that Blair's death "was the result of an unfortunate accident due to the fall of the deceased from a third floor." The office said the investigation is ongoing and that it is in contact with U.S. authorities, who are sharing necessary information with Blair's loved ones.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State told ABC News on Tuesday that they are aware of reports of the death of an American citizen in Rosarito Beach, Mexico. The State Department stands ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance, according to the spokesperson, who declined to comment further, citing respect to the family during this difficult time.

Elliot Blair, a public defender in Orange County, died in Mexico while celebrating his first wedding anniversary.
Blair family

ABC News has also reached out to the FBI for comment.

Blair, a California resident and Orange County public defender, was staying at the Mexican resort with his wife to celebrate their first wedding anniversary on Jan. 15. He was found dead the day before, just hours after the couple had gone out for dinner and dancing, according to Los Angeles ABC station KABC.

His family said in a press release via their attorney Tuesday night that they believe he was the victim of "a brutal crime," and that no one from the Rosarito Beach Police Department or Mexican government has reached out to speak with them directly.

The family said in the statement they have received communication from a liaison to the coroner's office, who told them the cause of death was severe head trauma. Blair's family is insisting his body not be cremated, and they have hired a private investigator to conduct an independent investigation, according to the statement.

His wife has been given "multiple versions of what happened," his family said. In their statement, the family said the "only real facts that are known" at this time are that the incident occurred in an open-air walkway "located outside the front door of their room," not a private balcony; Blair was not intoxicated at the time of the incident; he and his wife had stayed at the Las Rocas Resort and Spa many times and were familiar with the hotel; Blair was found in his sleeping attire, a T-shirt and underwear; and that he was a fluent Spanish speaker.

Blair's wife, Kimberly Williams, is also an Orange County public defender. The Williams family told KABC on Monday that they "have reasons to believe, and evidence, that there was possible foul play" but don't want to compromise the investigation.

Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, in an image from Google Street View 2022.
Google Maps Street View

A spokesperson from the Orange County Public Defender's Office, Martin Schwarz, told KABC on Monday 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."

ABC News' Marilyn Heck contributed to this report.

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