Toomer’s Corner tree poisoner faces possible arrest for failing to appear in court


LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) – Harvey Updyke, the man who poisoned the Toomer’s Oaks back in 2011 at Auburn University did not show up for his Wednesday court ordered appearance inside a Lee County courtroom.

The hearing proceeded without Updyke with Lee County District attorney Brandon Hughes asking Judge Jacob Walker to issue a warrant for Updyke’s arrest for failure to show.

Judge Walker said he will take the request under advisement as records are gathered regarding Updyke’s medical status and payment history. Two court appointed defense attorney’s told the judge Updyke was having medical issues and a doctor’s note was filed with the court.

Judge Walker will make his decision within 30 days deciding if a warrant will be issued for Updyke’s arrest.

Hughes asked for the show cause hearing back in August, telling WRBL News 3, Updyke is failing consistently to make his monthly restitution payments to Auburn University. The Show Cause order was issued in an effort to bring Updyke back before a Lee County Judge to explain why.

Updyke is infamous for his role in forever changing Auburn University’s Toomer’s Corner when he pleded guilty to poisoning the Oaks with a powerful herbicide. The trees eventually died and were replaced.

In 2013, Updyke was handed a three-year split sentence, with five years probation and later ordered to pay just under $800,000 in restitution to Auburn University in monthly installments.

Hughes sys Updyke has paid less than $5,000 and frequently misses monthly payments, especially now his probation has ended.

“Harvey Updyke has never left my radar. We have been keeping an eye on his payments or more specifically, his non-payment, and he has made exactly two payments for a total of $200 in the past year. Because of that, we have bee looking for him for close to a year, and we finally found him,” explained Lee Co. District Attorney Brandon Hughes.

Updyke was served with a Motion to Show Cause Order when investigators tracked him down in Louisiana.

“He was served with a show cause order on Tuesday basically telling him he needs to be in Lee County court on October 30th of this year to tell the court why aren’t you paying,” said Hughes.

Hughes has said if Updyke fails to appear, he will issue a warrant for his arrest. Hughes adds based on the Alabama fan’s behavior; it’s the district attorney’s opinion, Updyke has no remorse for intentionally killing the Toomer’s Corner Oaks.

“He embraces his role as the villain when he goes to Alabama sporting events, which we know he has been back to an Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa in November. If you have enough money to go see your team play, you have enough money to pay Auburn University,” stated Hughes.

What is clear is Lee County District Attorney is dedicated to enforcing Updyke to uphold his court requirements.

“As long as I am in this office and he (Updyke) is still breathing, I am going to be a bur in his side under his saddle and make sure he pays what he owes,” promised Hughes.

News 3 will keep you updated.

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