Harvey Updyke enters guilty plea, sentenced to three years in prison

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 22, 2013 

The man who admitted on a talk-radio show to poisoning Auburn University’s landmark oak trees in 2010 has entered a guilty plea to related charges.

Harvey Updyke, a staunch Alabama Crimson Tide fan and former Texas state trooper, withdrew his plea of not guilty Friday and plead guilty to felony Criminal Damage to an Agriculture Facility in front of Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker II. Updyke was sentenced to three years in prison. He has to remain incarcerated until he finishes serving at least six months. Upon his release, Updyke will be under supervised probation for five years.

Updyke has been in custody since his bond was revoked last month after getting into an altercation at a Louisiana home improvement store. With the guilty plea, Updyke avoids a trial that was scheduled for next month.

Updyke, 63, reportedly confessed twice to poisoning the oaks with Spike 80DF after the 2010 Iron Bowl, which Auburn won on the way to the national championship. The trees, which Auburn fans roll with toilet paper after victories, are dying and scheduled to be cut down April 23.

Updyke, who got into legal trouble when he admitted to poisoning the Toomer’s Corner oaks on the The Paul Finebaum sports call-in show, has been ordered by the court not to speak with any member of the media. He can’t attend any college athletic events or enter any property owned by Auburn University,

This ends a more than two-year legal saga that has taken some strange twists.

Updyke was arrested in February 2011 after a call to The Paul Finebaum Show and a suspicious voice message to an Auburn professor led police to him.

He has been in and out of Lee County courtrooms since his arrest. Last summer, jury selection for his trial started, but was later stopped after the Auburn student newspaper reported that Updyke confessed to the crime during a lunch break.

Walker determined that he was unable to seat a impartial jury in Lee County and later moved the case to Elmore County.

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