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Ex-Cop Convicted Of First-Degree Murder In Wife’s Death

After a first trial deadlocked, a former San Bernardino Police Officer was convicted for drowning his wife, Cristi.

An ex-police officer accused of drowning his wife in their backyard jacuzzi was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.

Blair Christopher Hall, 52, was expected to be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the June 7, 2007, death of his wife, Cristi Lynne Hall, authorities said.

After a first trial ended in a deadlock, the Riverside County District  Attorney’s office chose to try the case again. This time, jurors deliberated just over two days, breaking for the holiday weekend, before returning with a verdict within minutes of re-convening this morning.

Hall, who had been free on $350,000 bail, was immediately taken into custody by Riverside County sheriff's deputies. He proclaimed his innocence to Superior Court Judge Gary Tranbarger before being led away, while his three adult daughters, who were at his side for both trials, cried.

Sentencing is set for July 22.

“I think the verdict shows that the jury was able to see through the defendant's lies and deception and to know that he brutally murdered his wife and deprived his daughters of their loving mother,'' Deputy District Attorney Burke Strunsky said.

Strunsky, who also tried Hall the first time, said this time they put two additional experts on the stand, including an expert in homicidal drowning. This expert was able to show why Cristi Lynne’s injuries were “inconsistent with an accident,” Strunsky said.

 “Possibly its tougher for both sides. A feeling that somebody in law enforcemenmt, less likely to commit any crime. Obv. Very sad, just being a member of law enforcement when someone has taken an oath to uphold the law and commits such unspeakable violence. A jury will take that into consideration and what their knowledge could be in covering up a homicide.”

Defense attorney Steve Harmon told City News Service the verdict was difficult to accept.

“It's tough,'' he said, declining to disclose whether he and co-counsel Paul Grech intend to seek a new trial. Hall was first tried in May 2010, but jurors in that case deadlocked 8-4 in favor of guilt, resulting in a mistrial. The current trial got under way on May 12.

Strunsky said that putting an officer of the law on trial is always difficult, for both sides.

“There’s a feeling that somebody in law enforcement is less likely to commit any crime,” the deputy district attorney said. “Obviously it’s very sad when a member of law enforcement -- someone who has taken an oath to uphold the law and commits such unspeakable violence. A jury will take that into consideration and what their knowledge could be in covering up a homicide.”

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

The defense maintains Cristi Lynne's death was accidental. She had an $800,000 life insurance policy at the time.

According to Strunsky, on the day the victim died, she and her husband were using the hot tub adjacent to the pool 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.

According to Strunsky, Hall had one hand on his wife's back and another on her head, with the victim 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.

Patterson testified 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. She was pronounced dead at a Banning hospital.

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. Had a felony conviction for misuse of public funds for personal use and served nine months in Idaho.

City News Service contributed to this story.

scott foray June 01, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Man should have his head chopped off A.S.A.P. via guillotine. I pray Gov. Brown enforces new death penalty procedures to put an end to these people & their deadly acts. No Mercy should be allowed. In fact Gov. Brown should personally administer this man's execution. No more pussy footin' around with these types.
Laurie October 16, 2011 at 02:04 PM
This case was told on "Dateline" Friday the 14th of Oct. It was a sad but interesting story. I was convinced that Chris Hall was guilty of murdering his wife, Christi. Im so sorry for their three daughters.
Jennie D October 19, 2011 at 06:15 AM
I first read about this story on the "Patch" site when the case first made public news. From the beginning, the comments made by the defendant during the investigation of his wife's death, sounded very contradictory. Especially, with the defendant being a "former" law enforcement officer, he would know what to do to "cover" his tracks. From what I read of the previous article pertaining to this case, it definitely sounds 'premeditated' to me. With "special circumstances" involving a homicide, this usually results in the "death penalty" being handed down as punishment. I feel sorry for the daughters, that they have to go through the rest of their lives without their mother. I wonder how long it will take the daughters to see their father for the evil man he really is.
Allen Bennett June 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I think there is major reasonable doubt! 1. Lack of motive 2.the witness took her eyes off the sence for a minute or more, unsure what she saw 3.no domestic history
Jack Smith June 15, 2012 at 11:31 PM
allen, sure hope you are never on a jury. reasonable doubt?? what an id&*t.
Patrick Perry September 13, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Jack, If you ever find yourself on trial, trying to prove your innocence. (I don't know if Chris hall is innocent or not). You better hope someone like Allen, open-minded, is on the jury. So stop calling people an idiot.
Reuben E. Dominguez Sr. September 24, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Hooray! another worthless cop getting what he deserves!!! good job jury.
Michael Crown October 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Omg! I stil believe a person is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt ! Plus I feel these prosecutors should only get one chance to convict them ! This retrying over and over isn't right ! It's like you keep trying until you get people to believe the crap you want them to ! These prosecutors have an agenda to convict ! Right or wrong to promote their career! Can you say "Duke" LaCross Team?? Shit rolls down hill do don't think there aren't dirty cops, prosecutors, judges ! Even the "Pres" Obama and Joe bite me are suspect ! So wake up and smell the coffee ! Our Fore Fathers are rolling over in their graves on the direction of our country and the way you pinheads think! Thank God the " Decoration of Independence " was written over 200 years ago cause the average high school graduate not only couldn't read it they can't understand it !
PI Live January 05, 2013 at 09:06 PM
No evidence, yet guilty verdict was given... www.PILIVEradio.com
jerry February 25, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Fat pos cop who murdered his wife and the daughters are too blind to see it, plus he was a lazy fraudster cheif of police who shot himself to get work comp. F.U. fatboy
Maressa March 11, 2013 at 04:51 PM
I don't know if he is guilty or not only god, himself , and now deceased wife knows what really happened. People are convicted everyday and then 10 to 20 yrs later oh their innocence Is proven and now we the peeps hafta pay with or hard earned taxes for the screw up of law enforcement, governmen, etc. I do think and feel that the prosecuters need to stop doing their jobs half ass and get it right the first time. NO SECOND CHANCES unless there is significant new evidence such as DNA especially with murder since there is no statue of limitations on murder.
morris mcdaniel March 11, 2013 at 06:03 PM
The fat b itch was having an affair, she had it coming a far as I am concerned.
Andrea March 14, 2013 at 11:13 PM
She was???
Jack Smith March 15, 2013 at 12:52 AM
patrik, open minded or just plain blind to the facts?
Jack Smith March 15, 2013 at 12:55 AM
decoration?
Jack Smith March 15, 2013 at 12:56 AM
yea, god knew and now we all know............
Jack Smith March 15, 2013 at 12:57 AM
so morris, was the affair with you?
Jennifer Aniston March 15, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Morris you are RUDE, what if the family sees this? How pitiful that you have to get attention by insulting the dead. May this poor woman rest in peace!!
Genni Baker March 16, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Jack, you're obviously a relative. Following this case so closely and the message boards after years. Try not to attack others for their opinions-they're allowed.
Genni Baker March 16, 2013 at 01:22 PM
I wasn't on the jury to hear the evidence/facts, so I don't know beyond a reasonable doubt whether he's innocent or guilty. However, based on media report and TV episodes I didn't see or hear anything that swayed me 100%. I "suppose" the second set of 12 jurors that heard the case, got it right.

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