Defense lawyers for a University of Alabama fan accused of poisoning the iconic oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn say they plan to be ready for trial this week even though their client’s poor health may affect his participation.
Harvey Updyke Jr.’s trial is expected to begin sometime after a pre-trial deposition of an analyst who tests soil samples, which is set for Monday.
Updyke’s lawyers on Thursday filed a notice saying that the doctor treating Updyke for his "poorly controlled" diabetes recommended that the 63-year-old get a neurological exam for "passing out spells," the Opelika-Auburn News reports (http://bit.ly/KHX2aq).
The defense still plans to be ready but wanted the court to know that Updyke’s health could affect his ability to participate, said lawyer Everett Wess.
"Right now, we are planning to be there . I talked to him, and he doesn’t want to delay," Wess said.
Wess declined to discuss details of Updyke’s health complications but said his client was to see a doctor Friday.
Lee County District Attorney Robbie Treese said his office would continue to prepare for trial next week. He declined to comment on the notice.
Updyke has pleaded not guilty to charges against him, including first-degree criminal mischief, desecration of a venerated object and unlawful damage or vandalism of a crop facility related to the alleged poisoning of the trees with the herbicide Spike 80DF.
The case was originally set for trial last July but has been delayed numerous times for a variety of reasons, including continuances allowing attorneys more time to prepare, the departure of defense attorneys and an ultimately unsuccessful appeal to the state’s appellate court to overturn Judge Jacob A. Walker III’s decision to remain on the case.
Auburn University horticulturist Gary Keever said the condition of the trees has continued to deteriorate despite the efforts to save them. Reports from Dow AgroSciences, the company which makes Spike 80DF, estimate it could take as long as five to seven years for the lingering traces of the herbicide in soil around the trees to break down, Keever said.
By The Associated Press
Source: The Boston Herald