Sep 25, 2012 9:32 AM by AP

Auburn's alleged tree poisoner arrested in Hammond

HAMMOND, La. (AP) - A University of Alabama football fan awaiting trial on charges on poisoning of Auburn's beloved trees at Toomer's Corner has been arrested in Louisiana following a dispute over a refund for a lawnmower.
The Hammond Daily Star reports Harvey Updyke Jr., 63, wanted $150 for returning a lawnmower to Lowe's on Sept. 18 , but the store manager told him he was due $110. The situation escalated and police were called.
One officer told Updyke he needed to contact an attorney because it was a civil case. Updyke told the officer he wasn't going to do that. He said he was going to jail anyway and he "had a bad heart so he would come back and take care of everyone."
Officers booked Updyke into the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on a terrorizing charge, fearing for the safety of Lowe's employees and customers. He has since been released on a surety bond.
A Lowe's manager declined to comment. Updyke was wanted out of Texas, his home state, for the same offense but the agency issuing the warrant would not go through with extradition, according to a police report. Updyke is currently awaiting trial in Alabama, where he's charged with spiking the majestic oaks with a potent herbicide during Auburn's national championship run in the 2010 football season, which included a 28-27 win over Alabama. The trees are a powerful symbol because Auburn football fans traditionally roll them 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. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Updyke's trial was first set for June 2011 but was postponed after attorneys no longer wanted to represent him, the difficulty in selecting an impartial jury and extensive media coverage of the case. A Lee County judge recently assigned attorneys Margaret Brown and Andrew Stanley to defend Updyke. They did not immediately return calls Monday.


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