Thursday, February 17, 2011

More on the Auburn tree incident

This just in about the Auburn incident:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Arrest made in Toomer's Corner incident news services

AUBURN, Ala. -- A 62-year-old Dadeville man has been arrested in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University.

Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief, a spokeswoman for the Lee County Sheriff Office said.

Auburn fans celebrated the school's BCS title in January at Toomer's Corner.

Bond was set at $50,000. If convicted, Updyke could face one to 10 years in prison.

A man claiming to be "Al from Dadeville" phoned a radio show late last month, claiming he poured herbicide around the 130-year-old oaks that are the scene of celebrations after Auburn's sports victories.

"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer's trees," the caller told The Paul Finebaum Radio Show, saying he was at the Iron Bowl.

Calling himself "Al from Dadeville," he said he used Spike 80DF, also known as tebuthiuron, and the trees "definitely will die." The caller signed off with, "Roll Damn Tide."

Auburn discovered the poisoning after taking soil samples on Jan. 28, a day after "Al from Dadeville" called Finebaum's syndicated show saying he had used the herbicide on the trees.

The university said in a statement Wednesday that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was applied "in lethal amounts" to the soil around the two trees, and that they likely can't be saved.

Auburn fans traditionally celebrate by using toilet paper to roll the Toomer's Corner trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.

"We will take every step we can to save the Toomer's oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community," university President Jay Gogue said in a statement.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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