Harvey Updyke was found not in contempt of court at his hearing Wednesday but was ordered to increase his monthly restitution payments to Auburn University.
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker increased Updyke’s monthly payments from $100 per month to $150 per month beginning in April, and then another increase to $200 per month after three months.
Walker issued a warrant to hold Updyke in contempt of court after he failed to show up to a hearing Jan. 3. According to Andrew Stanley, one of Updyke's defense attorneys, his failure to appear at his hearing was due to “complete miscommunication.”
A budget form detailing Updyke’s expenses was requested at a hearing Oct. 6, 2016, and has since been received.
Prosecutors asked for Updyke’s monthly payments to be raised to $500 per month, arguing that the amount was fair considering Updyke has a reported income of over $40,000 annually.
Defense attorneys presented several reasons why the monthly payments should not be increased, including medical expenses Updyke has incurred from heart issues and a head injury he sustained in November, an increase in rent from $800 to $1,100 per month after Updyke and his family moved because of flooding damage in their old home, and Updyke being the sole provider for his family.
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Updyke is currently unable to work because of health issues and memory problems, according to his defense attorney. He receives all of his income from retirement and social security.
None of the community service required of Updyke has been completed since last fall when the flooding to his former home was sustained.
Updyke pleaded guilty in 2013 to poisoning and killing Auburn University's historic Toomer’s Oaks in 2010. He was ordered to pay $796,731.98 to Auburn University in restitution fees, which would help cover the expenses of removing the trees and replacing them.
Correction: "$150 per month until April, when he’ll then be expected to pay $200 per month" changed to "$150 per month beginning in April, and then another increase to $200 per month after three months."
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