Accused Auburn tree poisoner indicted

Posted on 05/18/11

from the Associated Press

OPELIKA, Ala. — The Alabama fan accused of poisoning the oak trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner has been indicted by a Lee County grand jury on four felony charges and two misdemeanors.

Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, faces two felony counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two felony counts of unlawful damage, felony vandalism or theft of property from a farm animal or crop facility and two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerated object, according to court documents.

Updyke is scheduled for arraignment on May 26 before Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III. He has a tentative trial date of June 20.

Updyke’s attorney, Glennon Threatt Jr., did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Wednesday.

The century-old trees preside over Toomer’s Corner, at the intersection of campus and downtown, where Auburn fans have traditionally celebrated wins. One of those traditions had been to heave toilet paper into the branches.

Updyke said he was attacked by unknown assailants at a gas station shortly after leaving the courthouse following his appearance for a preliminary hearing, which he waived.

Opelika Police Capt. Allan Elkins said Wednesday no suspects have been found or arrested.

“There has been no activity in this case since the report has been made,” Elkins said. “There has been no witness to come forward, there has been no evidence collected. The investigators have nothing to work with.”

Updyke gave what was tantamount to a confession in the poisoning later that evening on a Birmingham radio show, saying he didn’t want his legacy to be as “Harvey the tree poisoner.” He also said that “undoubtedly” wasn’t one of the good things he has done in his life.

He ended his appearance by saying, “Roll D*** Tide.”

“All my life, people have told me I cared too much about Alabama,” Updyke said on the show.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press