Psychiatric test for Ala. tree-poisoning suspect - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Psychiatric test for Ala. tree-poisoning suspect

Harvey Updyke Harvey Updyke
AUBURN, AL (AP) -

A University of Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn University's landmark oak trees in a fit of football rivalry voluntarily surrendered for psychiatric testing at a state mental facility Thursday, likely delaying his trial yet again.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to revoke Harvey Updyke's bond following his arrest earlier this month during a dispute at a store in Hammond, La., and a judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday.

But with a Hammond police officer in court ready to testify about what happened in a confrontation at a home improvement store, Updyke's lawyers skipped a formal bond hearing and instead said their client would turn himself in for testing at Taylor Hardin Secure Medical Facility, a state-run institution in Tuscaloosa.

Mental evaluations can take weeks, a court official said, but Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III didn't immediately rule on a defense request to delay the trial, which is set for a court session that begins Monday.

"It takes a while for Taylor Hardin to do their work," Walker said.

Updyke's previous lawyers left the case, forcing the judge recently to appoint two new attorneys who said they had yet to have time to go through the two boxes full of court documents they received when they took on the case.

One of the lawyers, Margaret Brown, told Walker it would be difficult to be in court as planned.

"We're not ready for trial," she said.

Updyke, 63, is charged with poisoning the Toomer's Corner oak trees with a powerful herbicide during Auburn's national championship run in the 2010 football season, which included a 28-27 win over Alabama. Auburn football fans traditionally roll the trees with toilet paper after a victory.

Updyke has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to charges that include criminal mischief and desecrating a venerable object. In court, he wore a tie with alternating stripes of Alabama's crimson color and a houndstooth pattern popular among Crimson Tide fans.

In Louisiana, Updyke was arrested earlier this month on a terrorizing charge after allegedly making a threatening comment when workers at a Lowe's store refused to give him the amount of money he wanted when returning a lawn mower. He is free on bond in that case, and Alabama prosecutors asked the judge to revoke his bond in the tree-poisoning case because of the arrest.

Walker attempted to hold Updyke's trial in the tree case in June, but he ended it during jury selection after Auburn's student newspaper quoted Updyke as telling a reporter that he admitted poisoning the oaks. Updyke's previous lawyers denied he had made the remark.

The defense is asking Walker to move the eventual trial outside of Auburn because of excessive publicity.

Once full and lush, the oak trees on the edge of the Auburn campus are now gnarly and brown. Officials pruned dying branches before football season because of safety concerns, but fans are still allowed to drape toilet paper on the remaining wood after victories.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related stories

Updated:

Attorneys for Updyke request change of venue Updyke attorney asks judge to drop charges State files response to Updyke's request to set value of Toomer's Corner trees More>>

  • NewsMore>>

  • More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    More LGBT issues loom as justices near wedding cake decision

    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:33 AM EDT2018-05-26 13:33:35 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 4:04 PM EDT2018-05-26 20:04:40 GMT
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File). FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court in Washington is seen at sunset. A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through the courts and will continue, no matter the outcome in the...

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    More >>

    A flood of lawsuits over LGBT rights is making its way through courts and that'll continue, no matter what the Supreme Court decides in the case of a baker who wouldn't create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

    More >>
  • Official tally shows big win for abortion rights in Ireland

    Official tally shows big win for abortion rights in Ireland

    Saturday, May 26 2018 2:43 AM EDT2018-05-26 06:43:19 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 4:04 PM EDT2018-05-26 20:04:35 GMT
    (Niall Carson/PA via AP). A man walks past a mural showing Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist who had sought and been denied an abortion before she died after a miscarriage in a Galway hospital, with the word YES over it, in Dublin, Irel...(Niall Carson/PA via AP). A man walks past a mural showing Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist who had sought and been denied an abortion before she died after a miscarriage in a Galway hospital, with the word YES over it, in Dublin, Irel...
    Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban.More >>
    Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban.More >>
  • Subtropical Storm Alberto heads to the US Gulf

    Subtropical Storm Alberto heads to the US Gulf

    Saturday, May 26 2018 5:23 AM EDT2018-05-26 09:23:12 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 4:04 PM EDT2018-05-26 20:04:03 GMT
    A gradual strengthening is expected through the weekend as Alberto moves north. (Source: NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB/CNN)A gradual strengthening is expected through the weekend as Alberto moves north. (Source: NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB/CNN)

    A storm moving slowly through the Caribbean Sea is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, mudslides, and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.

    More >>

    A storm moving slowly through the Caribbean Sea is threatening to bring heavy rainfall, mudslides, and flash floods to parts of Mexico, Cuba, Florida and the eastern U.S. Gulf Coast this weekend.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly