Attorneys: Witness could prove I-85 bridge collapse suspect's innocence

Accused I-85 bridge arsonist appears in court

ATLANTA - Attorneys for Basil Eleby, the man accused of causing the I-85 bridge collapse, say they have found a witness who could prove his innocence. 

Eleby was in court again Friday morning.

The state plans to file another indictment against Eleby, possibly on July 11.

The defense filed several new motions in the case even as state plans to file a new indictment to more accurately depict what happened during the incident, and make some changes to the charges against Eleby. It is also possible that more charges will be added.

Eleby’s attorneys say the witness who was with him at the time of the fire can provide an alibi to prove his innocence. The defense says that the witness is credible and can verify Eleby’s whereabouts during the fire. They say it was close enough that he could watch the fire, but far enough away that he could not have set it.

“Last night we filed an alibi notice, a notice that Mr. Eleby was in fact with someone, away from the bridge location at the time of the fire," said Mawuli Davis, an attorney for Eleby.  "We intend on producing that individual. We believe there will be others that will come forward and provide information to the district attorney’s office that Mr. Eleby could not have been under the bridge at the time of the fire because he was in fact with them, observing the fire from a safe distance away from where it was started.”

The suspect's attorneys say that because of the high-profile nature of this case, witnesses seemed more reluctant to come forward and provide information that could very well clear Eleby of causing the bridge fire. Davis says he believe more witnesses will come forward. 

Another motion that was filed was a request to investigate why two witnesses were interviewed by the Atlanta Police Department and were recorded but Eleby was not recorded during his own interview, seeing as he was the star witness in this incident. 

"I find it very interesting,” said Eleby attorney Lawrence Zimmerman, “That every witness that they interviewed was recorded. They interview Mr. Eleby, there's no recording."

And lastly, one of Eleby's attorneys requested that a polygraph test taken by the suspect could be entered as evidence in this case.

Eleby voluntarily submitted to a polygraph test on May 1, 2017. 

Polygraph questions:

1)     On March 30, 2017, did you set fire to that chair? Answer : No.

2)     On March 30, 2017, were you present when that fire was started? Answer: No

3)     On March 30, 2017, were you involved in any way in causing that fire underneath the I-85 Bridge? Answer: No

The test found that Eleby passed without deception.

The state argued that the test is not scientific, and they do plan to interview the defense’s witness prior to the new indictment on July 11. 

PHOTOS | I-85 bridge collapse suspect to be indicted again

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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