Archived Story

Updyke’s trial moved

Published 2:05pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

By David Goodwin, Staff Writer

The man accused of poisoning the beloved Toomer’s Corner oak trees in Auburn will be tried in Wetumpka after Circuit Judge Jacob Walker III granted a change of venue motion on Wednesday.

Harvey Updyke Jr., will be tried in front of an Elmore County jury starting April 8.

He faces two counts of first-degree criminal mischief and other charges related to his alleged role in pouring powerful poison onto the iconic trees on the campus of Auburn University sometime after the 2010 Iron Bowl.

He has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Circuit Judge John Bush, the presiding judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit, said he’d spoken with Judge Walker, and they agreed Elmore County would be “the nearest county free from prejudice,” according to Walker’s order.

“I know the people of Elmore County will be able to base any decision solely on the evidence and the law, as they have through the years in the many cases we’ve tried together,” Bush said.

Elmore County is supplying the courtroom in Wetumpka and the jury pool.

“(Judge Walker and I) felt like Elmore County would be an excellent place to get this case tried,” Bush said.

Goodwin is political editor for The Wetumpka Herald.