In filing, Jose Fernandez lawyer alleges evidence altered, ignored

An attorney for the late Jose Fernandez says the former Miami Marlins ace was unfairly blamed by investigators for the 2016 crash that killed him and two others.

Attorney Ralph Fernandez made the argument in a legal filing meant to defend the pitcher's estate from a civil lawsuit.

The Monday filing accuses Florida wildlife agency investigators of prematurely concluding that Jose Fernandez was responsible and then altering or ignoring evidence to the contrary.

"The law enforcement investigation that led to the incident report and the conclusions reached therein was fraught with false statements of fact, implicated practically unheard of destruction of evidence and included references to evidence that never existed," the filing alleges.

The Florida wildlife agency's investigation concluded that Fernandez was operating his boat when it hit a Miami Beach jetty in September 2016. Investigators also concluded that Fernandez was under the influence of cocaine at the time and had a blood alcohol content of .14.

"After depositions began there was external tampering by law enforcement agents and a disassociation from the very conclusions sworn to and ratified by others in a chain of command," the attorney wrote. "Like a house of cards, this whole case is compromised."

The filing theorizes that someone slipped cocaine into the drink of one of the three men while they were in a bar a couple of hours before they got on the boat. The object of the attempt was $15,000 Fernandez was carrying in his backpack. The baseball season was coming to a close, the attorney wrote, and Fernandez's mother had gotten the money out of the bank to tip Marlins Park employees for their help during the 2016 season. The backpack was recovered, he wrote. The cash was not.

The attorney also accused the state wildlife department of ignoring the possibility that 27-year-old Emilio Macias, who was the son of a Miami-Dade Police detective, was operating the vessel at the moment of impact.

Chris Royer, an attorney for the estates of Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero, says there's no evidence that either of them was operating the vessel. The state wildlife agency declined to comment on the filing.

When reached by ESPN, Ralph Fernandez said, "I'm not going to comment on the motion that I filed due to the pending proceedings. The motion speaks for itself. But I understand that Mr. (Chris) Royer, my worthy adversary, has suggested that I have breached confidentiality rulings. Three matters are confidential; the autopsy photographs, the redacted portion of the investigative report and the specifics of video surveillance. Not a shred of that evidence appears in my filings."

On April 23, a Miami-Dade judge is scheduled to hear Royer's motion that Ralph Fernandez be removed as a lawyer representing Jose Fernandez's estate. Royer alleges that during interviews by the state wildlife agency of Jose Fernandez's relatives, Ralph Fernandez acted as a witness rather than a defense attorney.

Jose Fernandez and Ralph Fernandez are not related.

The Associated Press and ESPN's Pedro Gomez contributed to this report.