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Elliot Blair, Orange County deputy public defender who died in Mexico, remembered for his generosity



Elliot Blair beloved to assist folks. The 33-year-old Orange County public defender typically stayed late at work to talk along with his purchasers, folks accused of crimes who couldn’t afford to rent a lawyer.

“If he wasn’t in trial, he was advocating for his purchasers,” mentioned Annie Rodriguez, a co-worker and buddy. “Judges and attorneys can be questioning the place he was. And he was simply exterior within the hallway speaking to his purchasers … listening to them.”

On Saturday, family and friends gathered at Christ Cathedral in Backyard Gove to have a good time Blair’s life. The younger lawyer died in January below mysterious circumstances at a resort in Rosarito, Mexico, whereas celebrating his first marriage ceremony anniversary along with his spouse, Kimberly Williams.

Blair was remembered as an individual who was moved to behave every time somebody wanted assist.

When his mom lately instructed him she was having bother dealing with the dying of his father in 2020, Blair went to work. He discovered a number of assist teams close to her house and organized for her to attend a gathering.

Blair and his spouse can be in Mexico at the moment.

“I discovered it so uplifting to share my story within the assist group,” Stella Blair mentioned throughout her son’s memorial service, attended by lots of of family and friends members. “Effectively, after that class on Friday, I fell asleep so soundly. I used to be simply misplaced in consolation.”

However just a few hours later, on Saturday, Jan. 14, she obtained a name that her son was discovered useless on the resort he and his spouse have been staying at in Rosarito, a coastal city about 20 miles south of the border.

Mexican authorities have mentioned Blair’s dying was the results of an unintentional fall from his resort balcony, however his household has insisted that it was the results of a “brutal crime” and have employed personal investigators.

The circumstances surrounding Blair’s dying have surprised his associates.

“It’s simply so unreal,” Rabecca Gomez, Blair’s second cousin, mentioned at Saturday’s memorial. “He was all the time my defender.”

Craig Williams, Blair’s father-in-law, recalled happening journeys along with his spouse, Janet, his daughter and son-in-law. However he additionally remembered how Blair would come house late from work. Williams would ask him why he was working so onerous.

“He would all the time inform me it was vital for him to do the most effective job for his purchasers. He was really a devoted public servant,” Williams mentioned, his voice choking with emotion.

Members of the family mentioned Blair and his late father, Tom, beloved to work on Volkswagen Beetles and the way the 2 constructed a 1966 blue Baja Bug.

His sister, Candace Wilson, who was 15 years older and in addition drove a VW Bug, recalled feeling like a second mother to her youthful brother as she drove him round to his sports activities practices or tutoring lessons.

As a toddler, Blair would sit within the entrance seat along with her and fake to shift the automobile’s gears, she mentioned. Ultimately, his father would train him how you can drive a stick shift.

“I wish to assume that I no less than gave Elliot a few of that have,” Wilson mentioned.

Buddies mentioned that Blair all the time felt secure in Baja, describing it as each a “secure haven” and his “glad place.”

Blair and Kimberly Williams, who met as colleagues within the Orange County Public Defender’s Workplace, spent their honeymoon in 2022 on the Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito. They determined to return final month on their first anniversary.

On the day he died, Blair was discovered splayed on the bottom, three flooring under the couple’s room in his underwear, a sleeping T-shirt and socks.

In an interview this week with ABC Information’ “Good Morning America,” Williams mentioned she didn’t consider her husband’s dying was an accident.

“Somebody did this to him,” mentioned Williams.

She mentioned the couple have been driving again to the resort on the night time of Jan. 13 after dinner at an area restaurant once they have been stopped by police, who claimed the couple drove via a cease signal. The officers requested for cash, she mentioned.

Blair, who was fluent in Spanish, defined they didn’t have the amount of money police needed. One other officer requested the place the couple was staying, and Blair mentioned Las Rocas, that they have been on trip, Williams mentioned.

Blair mentioned that the couple have been each attorneys and confirmed the police his work badge. Ultimately, they gave the officers $160 — all of the money they’d — and have been let go, she mentioned.

“We have been each rattled,” Williams mentioned, “however on the similar time we each had this sense of thank God they didn’t do something extra to us.”

Again on the resort, the couple went to the foyer bar, the place they danced earlier than going as much as their room. Williams received into mattress, and Blair took a bathe, she mentioned, including that she ultimately fell asleep.

She was later woken by the resort supervisor and a safety guard who alerted her about what had occurred, pointing to Blair’s physique on the bottom under.

“That was my Elliot down there,” Williams mentioned via tears. “I simply saved yelling at them to name an ambulance. They mentioned an ambulance got here an hour in the past.”

The couple had been staying in a room on the resort’s third ground, which was 20 to 25 ft above the bottom, the household’s lawyer, Case Barnett, mentioned.

In a earlier interview, Barnett instructed The Occasions {that a} plainclothes police detective who was sporting a badge instructed Williams on the scene that Blair had a bullet wound in his head.

Williams instructed ABC Information on Thursday that Mexican authorities described Blair’s dying as both an “accident” or a “suicide.” Williams acknowledged Blair had 5 or 6 drinks the night time earlier than, however that she had by no means seen him change into so intoxicated that he couldn’t “take care of himself.”

Mexican authorities attributed Blair’s dying to an unintentional fall from the resort’s outside walkway. An post-mortem performed by the state’s medical expert dominated that Blair died of a traumatic mind damage. The report didn’t point out seen accidents per a firearm or sharp weapon.

The investigation stays open.

Blair’s physique was returned to the U.S. on the finish of January.

On Thursday, Barnett mentioned an post-mortem report produced in Mexico and dated Jan. 14 characterised Blair’s dying as an “aggravated murder.”

The household employed Dr. Rami Cannabis, a biomechanical skilled, to assessment photos included within the report, which confirmed bruising on Blair’s legs and arms, “street rash” on Blair’s knees, an damage to his left toe and about 40 fractures at the back of his cranium, Barnett mentioned.

Whereas it stays unclear what occurred to Blair earlier than he died, his mom desires the world to recollect her son by paying ahead his generosity and kindness.

“Whenever you wanted assist, or wanted some uplifting along with his mischievous humorousness, he would cease and actually join with folks, and he was letting you understand he cared,” Stella Blair mentioned. “One drop of water is one drop of water. A whole bunch of drops of water can change the world. I ask that we do not forget that and we share that so we are able to make a distinction on this world and in folks’s lives.”

Los Angeles Occasions reporters Alexandra Petri and Terry Castleman contributed to this story.

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