Lemoore City Council Member Holly Blair will be in a courtroom July 5 facing seven criminal charges filed by the Kings County District Attorney’s (KCDA) office. Assistant DA Matt Darby, who challenged Tulare County DA Tim Ward in 2018, is the lead prosecutor in the case.
Her arraignment will be in the Kings County Superior Court in Hanford, Department 9, at 8:15am.
Blair was arrested three weeks ago on June 5 for assault with a deadly weapon, child endangerment, and resisting arrest. Blair spent the night in jail and bailed out on a $19,000 nonrefundable bond. Bail was set at $195,000.
After reviewing the evidence, KCDA officially filed four felonies and three misdemeanors against Blair on June 24.
Three of the felonies are assault with a deadly weapon. The weapon in Blair’s case was her car. Phil Esbenshade, Public Information Officer and Assistant District Attorney, said these were grave felonies and that “this was a very serious case.”
Blair allegedly almost hit police officer Kevin Cosper, civilian Crystal Giles, and Giles’ nine-year-old daughter. The fourth felony charge was evading an officer, which is a lesser offense.
Esbenshade said that if convicted of just one count of assault with a deadly weapon, Blair will automatically lose her driver’s license for the rest of her life.
The three misdemeanor charges are child endangerment, resisting arrest and reckless driving.
If convicted on all seven counts Blair could spend eight years in jail.
On the day of the incident Lemoore police officers and community members were in the rear parking lot of the police department preparing for a procession to Hanford.
Esbenshade said because it was a civic gathering the police did not have their body cameras on. Once Blair was seen entering the parking lot driving at high speed one officer turned on his camera. The video starts as Blair is at the end of the parking lot and turning around.
The video shows Blair almost hitting Officer Cosper as she drove out of the lot and he entered. The two other felonies happened before the body camera was turned on and are based on eye witnesses.
Three officers had their body cameras activated when they pulled Blair from her vehicle said Esbenshade.
Esbenshade was surprised to learn that there are no surveillance cameras in the parking lot; there is, therefor, no footage of when she entered. The parking lot is not open to the public, adding to the mystery of why Blair entered the parking lot in the first place.
No longer represented by Melo and Sarsfield
Blair is no longer being represented by the Law Firm of Melo and Sarsfield, which successfully represented her earlier this year in an anti-SLAPP suit and visited with her in jail after her arrest. Melo and Sarsfield would not comment on why they are no longer representing Blair.
Immediately after her arrest, though, Maggie Melo said that a medical condition might have contributed to her erratic behavior. In Blair’s mug shot she has her eyes shut and looks catatonic.
This theory was buttressed by Lemoore Police Chief Derrell Smith’s June 5 press conference when he said,. “I can only describe her behavior after listening to officers …….. as very bizarre. We can’t explain what her intent was when she came into the rear compound.”
Smith also said during his press conference that at the time of her arrest “Blair went limp.”
Under criminal law the DA will have to prove intent to cause bodily harm. If it is proven that Blair was under medical distress at the time of the incident the charges of assault with a deadly weapon could be ruled an accident.
Esbenshade said he didn’t see any evidence of medical distress in the video and that her mug shot appeared to be simple malingering.
It is unknown if Blair currently has legal counsel to represent her in court July 5. If she does not have a lawyer and cannot afford one, a lawyer will be provided for her, said Esbenshade.
Future as a Council Member in Question
Since the Lemoore City Council rescinded Blair’s censure in April and agreed to pay her lawyer’s fees, Blair has only attended one council meeting on May 7.
According to the California Code, a council person’s seat becomes vacant if they miss the regular city council meetings for 60 consecutive days without permission. That would mean that if Blair misses the July 2 meeting she would no longer be a City Council member.
The Lemoore City Council July 2 meeting was initially canceled last year but reinstated due to city business through a resolution.
According to Nathan Olson, Lemoore City Manager, the City of Lemoore Rules of Conduct state that a council seat does not become vacant until a member misses five consecutive regular meetings, giving Blair until the July 16 meeting. Olson said that he is following the more lenient of the two codes unless legal council says otherwise.
Blair attended a special meeting on May 22 that was a luncheon but Olson said only regular meetings count.
The July 2 meeting, coincidentally, was reinstated so the council could strategize how it plans on filling Council Member Chad Billingsley’s seat. Billingsley, who was elected in 2018 and is a lifelong resident, is moving to Colorado because of a work transfer with Leprino Foods. His last meeting will be July 16.
If Blair misses the regular July 16 meeting it will constitute her fifth consecutive absence. In such an event, the city council may be faced with filling two vacancies rather than one.
Olson said, “I hope after all this we can get back to business as usual. The residents and staff deserve more than all this turmoil. We want to start moving our agenda forward.”