OPELIKA, Alabama — Harvey Updyke confessed to a student newspaper reporter during a break in court today, according to a report published online by The Auburn Plainsman.
“Did I do it? Yes,” Updyke reportedly told Plainsman reporter Andrew Yawn, who has been covering the trial.
Updyke is on trial for allegedly poisoning the iconic Toomer’s Corner oak trees in downtown Auburn. Today was the first day of jury selection.
Updyke’s attorney, Everett Wess, said this evening that he had not read the Plainsman article.
“I’m a little taken aback,” Wess said.
Wess said he would speak with his client about the article.
Yawn told the AL.com Auburn Bureau that he approached Updyke and his wife outside the second floor courtroom in the Lee County Justice Center during today’s lunch break. He said he wanted to ask Updyke about his health, because he had noticed him breathing heavily at times during the day’s proceedings.
Yawn said he took notes throughout the interview and the apparent confession was unprompted.
After the confession, Yawn said Updyke asked him not to use that quote. Updyke’s wife Elva said, “Of course, he’s going to use it. He’s been taking notes,” according to Yawn.
Yawn said he faced a “moral quandary” about using the quotes as he had originally planned to write a sympathetic feature about the Updykes later in the week. But after talking to his journalism advisers he decided to post the story.