A day after The Auburn Plainsman reported that Harvey Updyke, the Alabama fan accused of poisoning Auburn's historic oak trees at Toomer's Corner, confessed his crime during a break in jury selection Tuesday, his lawyer says there was no confession.
Attorney Everett Wess said before the second day of jury selection started that Updyke denied telling the Plainsman that he committed the crime. According to the student paper, Updyke was approached during a break in jury selection Tuesday outside an elevator by community editor Andrew Yawn, and voluntarily spoke about the charges he is facing.
The Plainsman quoted the 63-year-old Updyke as saying, "Did I do it? Yes."
Now, Updyke's defense is asking that a new jury pool is needed after the newpaper's report, but Judge Jacob Walker continued with jury selection on Wednesday and denied the defense requests.
The newspaper said it stands by the article, and issued this statement from editor Robert Lee:
“We stand behind Andrew Yawn’s reporting on the Updyke confession yesterday afternoon 100 percent. The information gathered was not prompted nor off the record. Andrew is one of The Plainsman's most respected journalists. The information published in the article was an accurate account of what transpired. We are in no way making an assertion of Mr. Updyke's innocence or guilt. We simply reported what Mr. Updyke said to Yawn and we stand behind that. Mr. Updyke is due his day in court, just as every American citizen has the same right. We ask that the public reserve judgement until the judicial process is complete."
District Attorney Robbie Treese said investigators questioned Yawn, who was subpoenaed, and said he had information that hadn't been previously reported, adding, "The defense is claiming it's poisoned the jury pool when they themselves are the source of the poison."
The twists and turns just keep coming. This whole situation was bizarre from the beginning and now that we are getting closer and closer to Updyke's actual trial the strangeness just continues to grow. Regardless, it still seems like this will be coming to a close sooner rather than later.