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Four Prominent Attorneys Come to Defense of Homeless Man Being Accused In I-85 Bridge Collapse

Basil Eleby, 39, is accused of setting the fire that caused the I-85 bridge collapse. (Photo by the Associated Press).

The homeless man accused of setting the massive fire that caused the collapse of a crucial portion of I-85 last month is now equipped with a team of high-powered attorneys who will represent him in court.

Four prominent Atlanta attorneys have taken over the defense for accused arsonist Basil Eleby, 11Alive News reported Monday, April 10. The seasoned counselors are Malwuli Davis, Tiffany Roberts, R. Gary Spencer and Lawrence Zimmerman.

Eleby, 39, was charged with first-degree arson earlier this month in connection with the fiery interstate blaze. He is accused of setting fire to a chair, which eventually spread to a load of PVC pipes and fiberglass conduit stored under the I-85 bridge. Intense heat from the inferno led to the bridge collapse, costing the city millions of dollars in damage and wreaking havoc on already-awful traffic conditions.

Sophia Brauer and Barry Andrew Thomas, who reportedly were with Eleby at the time of the fire, also were charged with criminal trespass.

Sophia Brauer and Barry Andrew Thomas

Critics have blasted the City of Atlanta and Georgia Department of Transportation for trying to pin sole blame on the homeless man, who was reportedly smoking crack cocaine at the time he started the fire March 30. Leaders from both the civil rights and legal communities have since called for the Georgia DOT to be held responsible for storing flammable construction materials under the bridge.

They contend that Eleby is being used as a scapegoat in the incident.

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