Lawyers For I-85 Bridge Fire Suspect Claim Alibi At Hearing

Lawyers for Basil Eleby, the homeless man accused of setting the fire that led to the I-85 overpass collapse in March, said Friday they have an eyewitness who can give Eleby an alibi.

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Eleby was indicted in April for arson and criminal damage to property in the first degree.

On Friday, Eleby had a status hearing, during which his lawyers stated they have a polygraph test, along with a witness, that can prove their client’s innocence.

“Last night, we filed a notice that Mr. Eleby was, in fact, with someone away from the bridge location at the time of the fire,” said Mawuli Davis, one of Eleby’s lawyers.

Davis said his team of investigators has been in contact with the witness and hopes that more witnesses come forward.

“If he was physically not present, clearly he could not have created this fire and this catastrophe that happened at I-85,” Davis said.

Fani Willis and Brenden Dougherty, attorneys for the state, said they want to talk to the witness. Depending on what that witness says, they could adjust the indictment against Eleby. They also said this new evidence could help them charge Eleby more accurately.

Davis sees this new evidence as good for his client and could result in the state dropping the charges entirely.

“I would hope that this would give the state an opportunity to really take a hard look at some of the evidence that our investigators have been able to uncover,” Davis said.

Eleby was present at the hearing.

“I just want to say thanks to everybody for their support and for not giving up on me,” Eleby said.

The state says that if it decides to change the charges it will do so on or after July 11.