Man connected to Auburn tree-poisoning case assaulted, goes on radio show
Harvey Updyke Jr., who was assaulted after a hearing this week, apologizes to the University of Alabama and his children.
Fri, Apr 22 2011 at 10:10 AM
CAMPUS ICONS: It's tradition for the trees at Toomer's Corner to get draped in toilet paper when Auburn wins a football game. (Photo: Vicky van Santen/Flickr)
Harvey Updyke Jr., the man accused of applying a deadly herbicide to the famed Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University last February, said he is going to get what he deserves.
The 62-year-old Updyke went on the Paul Finebaum show, a Birmingham sports radio show, on Thursday — the same program on which an anonymously caller claimed on Jan. 27 to have committed the crime — to express his remorse. It was his first public comment on the tree poisonings since he was arrested on a charge of first-degree criminal mischief. He has since admitted to making the January phone call but has denied he was the one who poisoned the historic trees.
"I have hurt the University of Alabama, I know I have," Updyke said on the program. "And that's the last thing I wanted to do. It started out as a prank, and they're talking about putting me in prison for poisoning the water table. It's nowhere near to the end." If convicted of the crime, Updyke could face up to 10 years in prison. His attorney is discussing alternatives, including mental health therapy.
On the radio show, Updyke tried to paint himself as someone who made a single bad decision: "I don't want to go to my grave saying, 'Harvey the tree poisoner.' I think in my life I've done a lot of good things, and undoubtedly that wasn't one of them."
The call to Finebaum's radio show came a day after Updyke reported he was assaulted at a gas station in Opelika not long after leaving the district courthouse where his attorney waived his right to a preliminary hearing, according to the Associated Press.
Updyke said he was getting out of his car Wednesday afternoon when somebody or something "hit me in the face ... Both of my eyebrows are bruised. There's a straight line going from one to the other." He also said he has a gash between his eyes that may require stitches.
Opelika police Capt. Allan Elkins told CBS Atlanta that Updyke did not see his attackers and there were no other witnesses. The gas station does not have video surveillance cameras.
During the radio show, Updyke also apologized to his children, saying his actions have "devastated all my kids."