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Monday, Sep 25, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

Harvey Updyke still owes upwards of $500,000 in restitution

The trees at Toomer's Corner sit covered in toilet paper following Auburn's Elite Eight win over Kentucky, on Monday, April 1, 2019, in Auburn, Ala.
The trees at Toomer's Corner sit covered in toilet paper following Auburn's Elite Eight win over Kentucky, on Monday, April 1, 2019, in Auburn, Ala.

The infamous Toomer’s Oak poisoner Harvey Updyke Jr. will soon be back in a Lee County courtroom after failing to keep up with his monthly court-ordered payments, according to court documents. 

When he pled guilty to criminal damage of an agricultural facility, a Class C felony in March 2013, part of his plea agreement included paying over $800,000 in restitution to Auburn University and court fees. 

“He’ll never pay it off in 100 lifetimes and we knew that going in,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes told The Plainsman.

Updyke has paid $6,646.50 in restitution and court fee payments since the plea agreement over five years ago, according to court documents. 

Within the last year, Updyke has made two $99 restitution payments. His payments are supposed to be $200 a month.

This comes after his payments were lowered from $500 a month to about $100 a month. When Hughes took office, he succeeded in having the payments raised to their current mark of $200 a month, Hughes said. 

At the ordered rate, it would take Updyke over 300 years to pay off the entire restitution and court fees. Updyke is nearing his 71st birthday in October, according to court documents. 

“He’s got to pay what the court says he’s got to pay and he’s not doing it,” Hughes said. “Part of my role as district attorney is to make sure our victims are paid the restitution.”

Hughes does not think Updyke is remorseful for his actions. 

Harvey Updyke plead guilty to poisoning the Toomer's Oaks in 2013.

In the several public comments he had made since the 2010 Iron Bowl, Updyke has made it clear he does not like Auburn University and he is not sorry for what he’s done, Hughes said. 

“When he goes to Alabama games, he’s treated like a hero,” Hughes said. “They love this guy for what he did, and he embraces that role and relishes it. He’s just a bitter old man that’s got nothing going on in his life. He relishes this because this is all he has.”

In February, Hughes filed a motion to show cause because of Updyke’s failure to pay most of his month payments. This motion required Updyke to appear in Lee County court to explain why he has not been making is payments, according to court documents. 

This wasn’t the first time Hughes filed a motion to show cause with Updyke.

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Typically, Updyke will begin to miss payments, so Hughes will file a motion. Updyke will then make up his payments and continue on with his normal payments for a few months before missing payments again. This has been a continuous cycle, Hughes said. 

A hearing was set for July 2, and the state was ordered to serve Updyke with an order to appear. But when the state went to serve Updyke with the order, he was no longer living at the address he provided to the court, according to court documents. 

Hughes and others representing the state in Updyke’s case continued to search for Updyke by checking old address in Louisiana and Texas. In March, Updyke appeared as a guest on a podcast where he said he was living with his son, so the district attorney’s office followed the lead, Hughes said. 

When the time for the hearing rolled around, Updyke’s lawyers were present in court, but he was not. Judge Jacob Walker ordered Hughes and the district attorney’s office to find Updyke and set a new hearing date for October 30. 

“We contacted the DA’s office in Louisiana and got their investigators looking into it,” Hughes said. “They tracked him down and served him with his show cause notice on Tuesday.”

Hughes is going after those payments like he would any other case involving restitution payments, this just happens to be a more high-profile case, he said. 

This is a point of emphasis for Hughes, to make sure Updyke is following the law.

“Every single time he makes a misstep, I’m going to be there to make him answer for it,” Hughes said. 

Updyke did sign a notice stating that he was served the motion to show cause, therefore he is expected in court on Oct. 30.

Elizabeth Hurley | Community Editor

Elizabeth, senior in journalism and political science, is the community editor for The Plainsman


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