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Man accused of poisoning Auburn trees indicted

By: AP
By: AP

OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) -- A grand jury has indicted the man accused
of poisoning the oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner, where fans
have long celebrated big wins and hundreds gathered after the
Tigers won the football national championship on Jan. 10.
Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, was indicted on four felony charges and
two misdemeanors by a Lee County grand jury. He faces two felony
counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two felony counts for
unlawful damage, 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.
If convicted, Updyke could face up to 10 years in prison for
each felony charge and as much as a one-year sentence and $2,000
fine on the misdemeanor.
The century-old trees preside over Toomer's Corner, at the
intersection of campus and downtown. One of the traditional
celebrations 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 Damn 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. All Rights Reserved.)
AP-NY-05-18-11 1856EDT


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