In-law defends ex-detective accused of killing his wife

The Press-Enterprise

CALIMESA - As a former San Bernardino police detective sits in jail on suspicion of killing his wife, the woman's brother says her family stands behind him.

Blair Christopher Hall was arrested Thursday after his wife, Cristi Lynne Hall, died in a hospital. She had been found about an hour earlier unconscious in the couple's backyard spa in Calimesa.

Riverside County sheriff's detectives said they have enough evidence to arrest Hall in connection with the death of his 46-year-old wife. Hall reported the incident himself.

Cristi Hall's brother said Saturday he does not believe his brother-in-law is involved.

"It's not something that's in his character, and we just want to say that we believe in him 100 percent," Lance Carlton said. "He should be home with us during this time."

Carlton said there is an explanation for his sister's death that he hopes the district attorney's office sees when it reviews the case Monday. The couple was remodeling the bathroom at their Belle Road home, and Cristi Hall was unable to use it while getting ready for work at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where she was an X-ray technician.

So she chose to bathe in the backyard spa after turning down an offer to use the shower at her parents' home in Banning, Carlton said. She went to the outdoor spa with her bath products just after 6:30 a.m., Carlton said.

"She was taking a bath in the Jacuzzi, and she slipped and fell," Carlton said. "And that's the end of the story."

But after nearly 12 hours of investigation, detectives arrested the husband on suspicion of murder. He is being held at Southwest Justice Center. Bail is set at $1 million.

The 48-year-old Hall, who runs a private-investigation firm in Yucaipa, retired from the San Bernardino Police Department in 1994 after being injured during a robbery while working as an undercover narcotics detective.

Hall, his wife and three children moved to Idaho, where he became police chief of Cascade, a town of 1,000 people. He worked there several years in the late 1990s, but quit shortly before being convicted of embezzling $19,000 from a drug task force fund.

Neighbors say Hall and his wife of 29 years had a loving relationship, and Carlton agreed.

He said his sister was not unhappy, and that Hall is not a killer.

"Chris is our family," Carlton said. "He doesn't deserve this."

Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or plarocco@PE.com

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