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Former Police Chief Sentenced to 25 Years Behind Bars


Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Issue 29, Volume 15.
Paul Young
Special to the Valley News


RIVERSIDE - An ex-cop who drowned his wife in their back patio hot tub was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison while continuing to proclaim his innocence.

Blair Christopher Hall, 52, insists the June 7, 2007, death of his wife, Cristi Lynne, was a "tragic accident."

"Cristi was my lover, my wife and my best friend, and I miss her terribly," Hall told Riverside County Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger, reading from a prepared statement. "I never hurt Cristi. As much as I wish and know I shouldn't be sentenced here today, the worst day of my life has already happened. That was June 7, 2007."

The defendant's three daughters -- Courtney, 26, Briana, 25, and Ashtin, 23 -- never wavered in their support for their father. Courtney Hall read a letter to the court on behalf of the family, repudiating any suggestion that he would have harmed his wife of 29 years.

"We know this man, our dad, better than anyone," she said. "His wife and children were his whole world ... We have been astute jurors ourselves, and we wholeheartedly disagree with the verdict. We lost our mother. Now we're losing our father."

Hall's first-degree murder conviction on May 31 came a year after his first trial ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of guilt.

According to the District Attorney's Office, the defendant attacked his 47-year-old wife in their Jacuzzi, submerging her until she was dead. She had an $800,000 life insurance policy at the time.

"This jury was able to see the truth," Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky said during the sentencing hearing. "They saw through his lies and looked at the evidence, which was tested and argued."

The prosecutor read a brief statement from Cristi Lynne's brother, Billy Carlton, who described the pain he and his brother feel over the loss of their sister as "unforgivable."

"But it could never equal the suffering my sister must have gone through at the hands of Chris Hall," Carlton said. "She died a horrible death. Chris Hall deserves no leniency."

Tranbarger imposed the sentence required by state law.

According to trial testimony, the victim and her husband were using the hot tub behind their Calimesa home to wash because the master bathroom was being renovated.

Strunsky told jurors that Hall grabbed his wife, slammed her head twice into the cement edge of the hot tub, "causing two deep lacerations," then pinned her elbows and hands behind her back and plunged her underwater.

He said she managed to let out a scream, which was heard by her neighbor, Lindsay Kay Patterson, who peered through a hole in the 6-foot block wall separating the two properties.

Patterson testified that Hall had one hand on his wife's back and another on her head, with the victim appearing to be face-down in the water in her bathing suit. Patterson turned away, initially believing the couple were engaged in some kind of sex act, but a moment later looked again to make certain no one was in distress.

The witness said that the second time she looked through the hole, she saw the defendant leaning back in the water, seemingly relaxed. His wife was not in sight.

Hall dragged the victim's dead body out of the Jacuzzi a few minutes later.

The defendant testified that he had gone into the house to use the bathroom and returned to the spa to find his wife unconscious in the water. He said he tried to perform CPR, but she was unresponsive.

Cristi Lynne was rushed to a Banning hospital, where the former x-ray technician was pronounced dead on arrival.

Dr. Mark Scott McCormick, a county forensic pathologist, testified that the "constellation of injuries" gave every indication of foul play, pointing to the hemorrhaging in the victim's eyes and mouth as Advertisement
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well as the lacerations, abrasions and contusions on her head, face and arms.

The defendant was a San Bernardino police officer for 13 years before taking medical retirement related to an on-the-job injury. He was later hired to work as a police chief in two Idaho towns but was terminated and later convicted of embezzling $19,000 from a drug task force fund, a felony for which he served 10 months in jail and three years probation.


Former Police Chief Who Drowned Wife to be Sentenced Tomorrow

RIVERSIDE - An ex-cop who drowned his wife in their backyard patio hot tub is expected to be sentenced tomorrow to 25 years to life in prison.

Blair Christopher Hall, 52, was convicted on May 31 of first-degree murder for the June 7, 2007, death of his wife, Cristi Lynne. It was his second trial. The first one, conducted in May 2010, ended in a mistrial when jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of guilt.

The panel convened for the most recent case deliberated about two days before returning with a unanimous verdict.

The former lawman's attorneys have not filed motions seeking a new trial. He remains held without bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.

Hall maintains his innocence and continues to receive the full support of his three adult daughters.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, the defendant attacked his 47-year-old spouse in their Jacuzzi, forcibly submerging her in the water until she died.

The defense argued Cristi Lynne's death was accidental.

She had an $800,000 life insurance policy at the time.

According to Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky, on the day the victim died, she and her husband were using the hot tub behind their Calimesa home to clean up because the master bathroom was being renovated.

Strunsky alleged that Hall grabbed his wife, slammed her head twice into the cement edge of the hot tub, "causing two deep lacerations," then pinned her elbows and hands behind her back and plunged her underwater.

He said the woman managed to let out a scream, heard by her neighbor, then-24-year-old Lindsay Kay Patterson, who peered through a hole in the 6-foot block wall separating the two properties.

Patterson testified that Hall had one hand on his wife's back and another on her head, with the victim appearing to be face-down in the water in her bathing suit. Patterson turned away, initially believing the couple was engaged in some kind of sex act, but a moment later looked again to make certain no one was in distress.

The witness said that the second time she looked through the hole, she spied the defendant leaning back in the water, seemingly relaxed. His wife was not in sight.

Hall would drag his spouse out of the Jacuzzi dead a few minutes later.

The defendant testified that he had gone into the house to use the bathroom and awaken their teenage daughter, returning to the spa to find his wife unconscious in the water.

He said he tried to perform CPR, but she was unresponsive. Cristi Lynne was rushed to a Banning hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Dr. Mark Scott McCormick, a forensic pathologist, testified that the "constellation of injuries" gave every indication of foul play, pointing to the hemorrhaging in her eyes and mouth, as well as the lacerations, abrasions and contusions on her head, face and arms.

Hall described his nearly 29-year marriage as generally happy, testifying that he and his family were doing well financially.

The defendant was a San Bernardino police officer for 12 years before taking medical retirement. He was later hired to work as a police chief in two Idaho towns, but was terminated and later charged and convicted of embezzling $19,000 from a drug task force fund, a felony for which he served no time.


 

4 comments

Comment Profile ImageIris
Comment #1 | Friday, Jul 22, 2011 at 8:04 am
Dirty cop turned murderer. Lock him up for life!
Comment Profile ImageHall Didit
Comment #2 | Monday, Apr 9, 2012 at 8:31 pm
Why are his daughters disrespecting their own mother? They should be asking their father why he did it.
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile ImageIris
Comment #3 | Monday, Apr 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm
The cop turned evil and fooled his ignorant daughters.
Comment Profile ImageWill
Comment #4 | Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm
So Sad..

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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