Harvey Updyke failed to appear in Lee County court Wednesday afternoon, and now the Lee County District Attorney’s Office has a month to gather more information before the judge decides on issuing an arrest warrant.
The district attorney’s office asked for a warrant for Updyke, who confessed in 2013 to poisoning the Toomer’s Oaks after Auburn’s 2010 Iron Bowl victory. Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes said Updyke hasn’t been keeping up payments on his court-ordered $816,694.98 in restitution to Auburn University and court costs.
“We asked for a writ of arrest today for his failure to appear here and the judge is taking that under advisement for 30 days,” Hughes said.
Judge Jacob Walker ruled that Hughes’ office needs to use the time to assess a letter from Updyke’s daughter stating why he couldn’t appear, plus submit a certified copy of the restitution payment record.
“Judge (Walker) has given us 30 days to look into those reasons and also to file with the court a certified copy of exactly how much he has paid to this point based on some rough calculations because the orders of how much he’s supposed to pay has changed over time,” Hughes said.
Walker will then decide whether to issue a warrant for Updyke’s arrest for not appearing in court Wednesday.
His state-appointed attorneys Margaret Brown and Andrew Stanley did not comment.
PaymentsHughes said Updyke is to be paying $200 a month; however, he has not been making those payments regularly.
According to court records, Updyke has paid $6,915.50; however, he still needs to pay more than $809,000 in restitution.
Hughes believes Updyke doesn’t want to pay back the money.
“He’s traveled other places to watch Alabama play so he’s spending money,” Hughes said in August. “He’s just not spending it on his restitution like he’s supposed to.”
HistoryUpdyke confessed to poisoning the tree, traditionally rolled with toilet paper by Auburn students and fans after a big win, by calling into “The Paul Finebaum Show” in 2011.
Auburn tried and failed to save the trees, then decided to replace them in 2015. The oak on Magnolia Avenue did not survive the transplant and was replaced in July 2015.
The new tree was then damaged in 2016 by a fire after Auburn’s win against LSU. Jochen Wiest pleaded guilty in 2017 to setting fire to toilet paper hanging from the tree.
The 2015 oaks were replaced in February 2017.