11Alive News has learned four prominent Atlanta attorneys are taking over the defense for accused arsonist Basil Eleby.
Eleby, who is homeless, is accused of setting the fire that eventually spread to a load of plastic and fiberglass conduit and ignited the a portion of Interstate 85 that runs over Piedmont Avenue.
The interstate collapsed, causing damage that will impact millions of drivers for months to come.
The attorneys are Lawrence Zimmerman, Malawi Davis, Tiffany Roberts and R. Gary Spencer.
Homeless advocates and Eleby's Public Defender have been critical of the Georgia Department of Transportation for blaming the fire on the homeless man, whom they say was smoking crack when he lit some furniture on fire on March 30.
Eleby has been charged with first-degree arson and criminal damage to property. Two others, Sophia Brauer and Barry Andrew Thomas, have been charged with criminal trespass.
Larry Priester of the Atlanta Field Division of the ATF said that his office gathering information to present a case to the U.S. Attorney's office for federal charges against Eleby.
People who know Eleby told 11Alive he has the mental capacity of a 15-year-old. They also said Eleby, who had been arrested numerous times before on drug and battery charges, had been in-and-out of a drug addiction program for 20 years.
Civil rights leaders -- and some in the legal community -- have criticized the post-fire focus on Eleby. They said the Georgia Department of Transportation should be held accountable for storing construction materials under the bridge.
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