Family of 9-year-old disputes suspect's carjacking defense after hit and run

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The suspect in a hit-and-run accident that critically injured a 9-year-old girl remains in jail without bond. 

Gabriel Jabri Fordham, 28, turned himself to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday and made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon. Fordham is charged with hit-and-run, failure to maintain lane, serious injury by vehicle, reckless driving, and a stop sign violation.   

Fordham's attorneys believe the charges against him should be dropped because they claim he was the victim of a crime himself.

“Our client was pistol-whipped and rendered unconscious by a carjacker at the time of the accident," Attorney Gerald Griggs said.

MORE: Suspect arrested in hit and run that injured Lithonia girl

According to her family, LaDerihanna Holmes was playing in the front yard of her house on Cherokee Valley Circle in Lithonia on Friday night when a black Ford Focus came off the roadway and ran into her.

Surveillance footage released by the family shows the car running through a stop sign and hitting Holmes as she tries to get out of the way.

Paramedics rushed Holmes to a hospital with a fractured skull and a broken pelvis. Another girl, Alayshia Phillips, 11, suffered a foot injury.

Fordham's attorneys claim the man shown running from the scene was the carjacker.  They maintain that their client stayed to assist after the accident until a man produced a gun. 

"At no particular time did our client willfully leave the scene of an accident.  That's what this was, an accident," Griggs explained. 

In a news conference Wednesday, DeKalb County Police confirmed the information about the gun was true, but they said their investigation into the carjacking claim remains active.

"As far as this whole case, I'm open-minded," said Detective Lawrence Armstrong.  "I'm interested in the truth and all the facts that pertain to this particular investigation."

MORE: Family asks for answers after driver slams into 9-year-old Lithonia girl

In a statement released by their lawyers, Holmes' family said they were pleased that Fordham had been arrested and that they were "hopeful that police will also find the passenger in that vehicle soon." 

Meanwhile, police said Holmes has been moved to a rehabilitation facility to continue her recovery.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for LaDerihanna’s medical expenses.