Man accused in Auburn tree poisonings wants charges against him reduced

AUBURN, Ala. (KTRE/RNN) – The man accused of poisoning the historic oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn is asking the courts to set a value of the oak trees.

Harvey Updyke Jr., a former Lufkinite and former Texas state trooper, is accused of criminal mischief and other charges for allegedly putting poison around the bases of the Toomers oaks. Auburn fans traditionally roll them with toilet paper after a big victory.

Updyke says the trees are worth $20. He also says the charges against him should be dropped to misdemeanors because of the value of the trees.

Updyke's latest attorney filed this request with the court. According to court documents Everett Wess has been working on this case since May. However he is the fifth attorney listed on Updyke's case since his arrest in February.

KTRE's search of Angelina County clerk records shows Updyke owned property in Angelina County in the 1970's.  Other records reveal he worked at one time as a state trooper in the Austin area.  Prior to that, a D-P-S spokesman said Updyke worked at Texas Foundry (Citation) in Lufkin.

ESPN has reported he named his children Crimson and Bear.  "When Bear Bryant died, I was living in TX and I really didn't understand the Auburn/Alabama rivalry. A good friend of mine sent me a copy of the newspaper showing Auburn students rolling Toomer's Corner celebrating Bryant's death," he said in a radio interview.  This alleged act seems to be what triggered Updyke's anger.

The trial of 62-year-old Updyke Jr. is scheduled to begin October 31.  It is unknown what impact, if any, this latest court filing will have on his trial date.

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