Day two of the Harvey
Updyke tree poisoning case stalled Wednesday morning, after an Auburn
University reporter wrote an article claiming Updyke confessed that he did
poison the two trees at Toomer's Corner.
The story was written by Andrew Yawn and ran Tuesday afternoon in The Plainsman paper. Yawn says Updyke and his wife spoke to him yesterday outside of court, and that's when Updyke confessed.
However, Updyke's Defense Attorney Everett Wess said his client, never made those statements or admitted his guilt to the rookie reporter. "I talked to Harvey and his wife and they deny making the statements. So, I think it's strange to say that the student reporter from Auburn University was able to get the scoop on the major news networks," said Wess.
WTVM spoke with John Carvalho, the Auburn University faculty advisor to The Plainsman. He told us: "We stand behind Andrew's reporting of Updyke's confession 100%. The confession was not prompted or off the record."
Yawn says he told Updyke he was a reporter, but he did not tape record the interview. "... I'm a journalist, I'm a reporter I wouldn't make up something like this and he has done it before. If you are going to confess once you are going to do it again...We knew this was going to erupt and blow up - I'm not surprised that they denied it," replied Yawn.
article was discussed by the judge, Updyke's attorney and the DA's office
before day two of jury selection began.
Wess asked for a change of venue and a continuance, saying the article proved his client could not get a fair trial in Lee County.
Judge Walker denied the requests, but did issue a limited gag order in the case. Now only attorneys are allowed to talk to the press; even Yawn, who we interviewed before the gag order, is not allowed to talk. He cannot even cover the trial for the Plainsman, because he's been subpoenaed as a possible witness.