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Man accused of poisoning Toomer’s Corner pleads not guilty at hearing

Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr.

Harvey Updyke, the man accused of poisoning the trees at Auburn’s Toomer’s Corner, has pleaded not guilty to state charges for reasons of (snicker) “mental disease or defect.”

Updyke’s lawyer, Glennon Threatt Jr., also said the preliminary hearing set for May 26 has been waived due to a procedure on Updyke’s back that prevented him from traveling.

Updyke did not receive federal charges, but was indicted by a Lee Co. (AL) jury last week onĀ  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.

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13 Responses to “Man accused of poisoning Toomer’s Corner pleads not guilty at hearing”
  1. writtenbyross says: May 26, 2011 7:10 AM

    You know the legal system is flawed when someone who confessed to a crime is still labled as “accused.”

  2. Deb says: May 26, 2011 11:57 AM

    He’s guilty by his own admission, so the only decision should be whether he was competent. If so, it should be handled as a criminal matter. If not, then the finding should be “guilty but mentally ill” rather than “not guilty.”

    The laws need to change so that a finding of mental incapacity isn’t considered a “not guilty” verdict. As it stands now, people who are a danger to the public can be treated for however long doctors feel necessary, then released into society if they promise to take their meds–which many fail to do. In this case we’re talking about trees. But a friend of mine was shot in the head by a complete stranger who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She spent a year in a mental institution, then was sent home … which proved only that the justice system is insane.

  3. thompgk says: May 26, 2011 1:10 PM

    So this trial is basically going to be decided on whether or not being an Alabama fan is a mental defect?

    As an Auburn fan this is an absolute win/win.

  4. goldnd says: May 26, 2011 2:00 PM

    THere was an article about him on espn. He states he only said he did it on the phone call to the radio station to get attention and to make the fans mad, but he never REALLY poisioned the trees. who knows

  5. Deb says: May 26, 2011 4:20 PM

    @goldnd …

    My, how prescient of him. No one had any inkling those trees had been poisoned. Then Updyke called a radio station claiming to have poisoned them months before and naming the poison. Auburn’s horticulturists checked the trees and lo’ and behold they had indeed been poisoned some time previously with that very substance.

    But Updyke didn’t poison the trees. It’s a coincidence that he chose to get attention by confessing to a bizarre crime that actually had been committed.

    With everything that’s happened in Alabama recently, and the storm damage across the entire state, it’s almost criminal that the judge rejected the agreed-upon plea arrangement and taxpayer money is being wasted on this nonsense. Some Southern prisons still run old-time work farms. Send him to one where he can make amends by helping things grow, and be done with it.

  6. goldnd says: May 26, 2011 6:58 PM

    I am not sticking up for him or anything like that, just stating there are 2 sides to every story. If you read the article and his side, he knew that information from people talking to him that sat next to him at the game. Again who know, but youre right, alabama has other things to worry about and auburn has other major in house problems that seem to be swept under the rug. Players gettting arrested, taking money, and it seems like auburn wants to draw attention to someone/something else rather than their own problems.

  7. brownsfrown says: May 26, 2011 11:26 PM


    I vowed long ago that if I ever found a woman use the word “prescient” in a sports post I would have to ask her to marry me!

    After years of scouring sports posts, I have found my Cinderella!

    Well, Deb? What do you say?

    And a ‘Bama fan, no less! A package deal! LOL!

  8. Deb says: May 27, 2011 1:05 PM

    But brownsfrown, you know there’s another side to this diehard Bama girl, right?

    I bleed Steelers black and gold.

    Still think I fit that glass slipper? :)

  9. brownsfrown says: May 27, 2011 3:16 PM

    @ Deb

    As with many Steeler friends, I think being at odds only two days per year (Browns vs. Steelers days) presents pretty good odds!

    Besides, it would give me my only chance to claim a team in the Super Bowl, and you will finally get the chance to see what it’s like to routinely pick in the top five on draft day!

    The slipper sounds to me like it is made of Waterford!

  10. Deb says: May 27, 2011 5:14 PM

    Well, brownsfrown, this sounds promising! I’m respectful of the Browns, as I am of my fellow SEC teams, and just stopped myself from chastising a PFT writer who called them an “expansion” team. And I love Waterford :)

  11. brownsfrown says: May 27, 2011 11:27 PM

    C’mon, Deb…I know you are being benevolent, but the Clowns are, in fact, by all modern definitions, an “expansion” team, and will be until they incorporate a model of ownership like the Steelers, and other longstanding franchises who know how to develop players, despite their standing in the draft.

    That being said, how do you feel about a shoe shaped like a football and made of roughly $30,000 worth of Waterford craftsmanship? A shrine should be erected in Tuscaloosa for its permanent placement. But that will be tough if it is affixed to your foot! (I don’t think a woman of your smarts has a foot of such shape!)

    Like all things AFC North, your Steelers set the standard! (Surely you appreciate my disdain for the Ratbirds!) Thank you for your kind words, but I think Holmgren is there for the three-year ride, and then we will be onto another wasted tenure until we get an owner who cares!

    My proposal was sincere! (LOL!) A woman with your intelligence and assertiveness is fun to watch in the forums, as most of the macho-type guys have to resort to throwing crayons to counter your well-made points!

    Your are a fun lady; especially since I agree with most of your teams!

    Please spare no barb in keeping us all amused!

  12. Deb says: May 29, 2011 8:52 PM

    @brownsfrown …

    Thanks I needed that! Took a short break from the blogs only to find myself being accused of “turning tail and running” … now what Bama girl does that? :)

    No … I have a regular-shaped foot, and in good Southern tradition, it’s often bare … at least around the house.

    I’m the same way about the AFC North that I am about the SEC–love to hate and hate to love. Respect the Browns for our long history and for the the long storied history of the franchise, which remained in Cleveland. Respect the Ravens as our chief rivals today. Struggle hardest to respect the Bengals. Mike Brown does not make that easy … especially when he puts #85 and T.O. on the same team. Poor Marv.

    It’s so nice to meet guys who like assertive women who can keep up with football. I can’t get over how many guys get bent out of shape about that. It’s so funny because in person I’m definitely a girly-girl. :)

  13. brownsfrown says: May 30, 2011 1:54 PM

    @ Deb…

    We really have to stop meeting like this in our own little candlelit corner of CFT! People will begin to talk!

    Agree completely with your assessment of AFC North football, and you nailed the Bengals organization’s source of misery dead-on! Bengals fans are the only team I have greater sympathy for than the Browns (okay…I lied…Detroit fits right in there as well). Although I respect YOUR respect for the Ravens, no team gives me a more acrid taste in my mouth than having to utter their very name (for obvious reasons). Watching the Steelers beat-up on them brings me great pleasure!

    You put most guys to shame with your knowledge and awareness of the game, and your fairness is refreshing to see! Usually a woman with your assertiveness has the curse of also being irrational; nice to see that is not the case with you! There is hope! Is Mizzou the only place to boast such women?

    The guys who are uncomfortable about women like you are haunted by their own fears of inadequacy. Throw in the fact that you’re a girly-girl as well, and I would imagine that is quite crushing to them!

    See you in the posts, so please be gentle on me!

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