Updyke's new attorney seeks lesser charges

File Photo: Toomer's Oak
File Photo: Toomer's Oak

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - The new attorney for accused Toomer's Corner oak tree poisoning suspect Harvey Updyke is wasting no time attempting to lessen the charges against his client.

Everett W. Wess, Updyke's fifth attorney since the case against him started in early 2011, filed a motion Tuesday seeking to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanors.

Wess said in papers filed with the Lee County Circuit Court that the oak trees in question should be valued at $20 - a value the state explicitly lays out for the plants in law.

Updyke's charges include 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.

Wess cites an Alabama statute asserting that anyone who destroys a tree on someone else's property "must pay to the owner $20.00 for every such tree or sapling."

CLICK HERE to read the court document. The judge has yet to rule on Wess' request

Updyke is accused of dumping a fatal does of the herbicide Spike 80DF on the iconic, century-old oaks that mark the boundry between the city of Auburn and the campus of Auburn University.

He's admitted to being the caller to a popular sports radio show who claimed responsibility for the poisoning of the trees, but has since refused to admit he actually committed the act.

Auburn University continues to work on methods to save the trees, but their health is in noticable decline.

Copyright 2011 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.