AUBURN — The man accused of poisoning the trees at Toomer’s Corner is living in a car beside a creek somewhere in Alabama in an attempt to stay out of harm’s way, according to one of his friends.
Harvey Updyke Jr., the man arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the poisoning at the Auburn University landmark, has gone into seclusion, according to Wayne Barnes, a former high school classmate and longtime friend who was with Updyke when he was released on bond last Friday.
Updyke, an Alabama fan who was arrested last Thursday, finally gained a bit of normalcy Tuesday when Birmingham attorney Glennon Threatt Jr. said he would defend him after Updyke’s first three defense attorneys filed motions to leave the case. Their requests were granted by the District Court of Lee County.
Threatt has handled several high-profile cases, including those of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford.
Updyke is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing March 2.
Updyke was living in Barnes’ home on Lake Martin, near Dadeville, before the two decided last weekend that it would be safer for him to leave, Barnes said on the Paul Finebaum radio show Tuesday.
“He has very limited resources,” Threatt said on the radio show. “He is exactly the kind of person the law requires to get adequate representation. Now he’s facing a hostile crowd that rather than have a jury, he’ll probably have a crowd of pitchforks and torches out there waiting for him. So he’s in a very, very difficult situation, so that’s how our conversation started.”
Updyke claimed on the radio show last month that he poisoned the trees. Barnes said Updyke made similar claims, by using Barnes’ user sign-on, on the Tider Insider website before calling Finebaum’s show.
“Harvey admitted to the Auburn Police Department that he made those posts on Tider Insider,” Barnes said.
Threatt said Updyke’s claim on the radio show “was tantamount to a confession. I also understand that he’s given some contradictory statements to the police, so we’ll see where that goes. We’ll find out more when they have a preliminary hearing.”
Added Threatt: “I don’t know him well enough to know whether his belief system is consistent with the truth.”
Barnes said Updyke has been “down on his luck.” He also said Updyke’s love for Alabama is unquestioned, so much so he named a daughter Crimson Tyde Updyke and a son Bear Bryant Updyke. Barnes said Updyke tried to name another daughter Ally Bama Updyke, but her mother wouldn’t let him.
Barnes also said Updyke ran on the field at the 1970 Bluebonnet%