October 19, 2004

Officer (of the court) down

A 29-year-old attorney, recently moved to private practice from the Maricopa County Public Defender, has been shot and killed by a stray bullet while driving home.

"While Justin Blair played poker with buddies on Saturday night, he kept thinking of his girlfriend, sending her text messages by phone saying "I love you. I want to marry you." When the game ended around 2 a.m. Sunday, he called to let her know he was on his way home with a friend."

"The Phoenix defense attorney and fiancé Toni Stallone were giddy with love, fresh into a new house and planning a life together. But a stray bullet early Sunday morning ended all their plans."

"I just want to know who did it," Stallone said, weeping softly, "and tell them to come forward and tell the truth. . . . Justin fought for people's rights - the underdog. Now it's time to fight for his. He used to tell my son, 'You do what's right no matter how hard it is.' "

"A bullet through the windshield killed Blair, 29, instantly. Glendale police say the shooter was in a red pickup truck, firing at a Jeep Cherokee in an apparent road-rage dispute that erupted near 57th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Three passengers in the Cherokee were wounded. Blair and his friend were innocent victims, traveling in the opposite direction."