Auburn tree poisoner pays a little toward restitution

Published 4:25 pm Sunday, December 15, 2019

The University of Alabama fan convicted of poisoning Auburn University’s landmark oak trees has increased his restitution payments since prosecutors threatened to have him jailed, court records show.

One-time Texas state trooper Harvey Updyke has made $3,330 in court-ordered payments since an October hearing on whether he should be arrested, according to circuit court payment records.

The amount is nearly half as much as Updyke had paid previously since 2013 after pleading guilty to poisoning the oaks at Toomer’s Corner.

The increased payments came as Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker considered whether to have Updkye jailed for failing to pay about $800,000 in restitution for killing the trees with herbicide.

Updyke previously claimed in videos posted online that monthly expenses including rent were going up.

But records show he made his largest payment of $1,266 on Nov. 6, and this month he made two payments of $399 each.

Updyke lives in Louisiana and failed to show up for a hearing about the payments held in Opelika on Oct. 30.

A letter from Updyke’s doctor said the 71-year-old man was too ill to attend, and court records show Updyke most recently used a hospice and palliative care facility for a return address.

Updyke served more than 70 days in jail after admitting to poisoning trees at Toomer’s Corner, where Auburn fans traditionally rolled the trees with toilet paper after a win.