Judge denies gag order in tree poisoning case - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Judge denies gag order in tree poisoning case

LEE COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Friday a Lee County judge denied a gag order entered by the district attorney in the Harvey Updyke Jr. case.

Updyke, 62, was arrested this year for allegedly poisoning the trees at Toomer's Corner with a pesticide.

The district attorney told News Leader 9 he prefers to try the case in court, not in the press.  He also told the judge that he wants to close the hearings to the public and all parties gagged.

The defense, on the other hand, preferred the hearings to be open.

The judge told both parties that "rules of professional conduct needed to apply".  He added that he will not seal a file, unless it involves a mental health evaluation.

For the first time, Updyke's wife appeared in court with him. Updyke's attorney, Glennon Threatt, told News Leader 9 his wife is "really protective." 

Both Updyke and his wife wore the color crimson. The gag order hearing was pushed back Friday because a grand jury indicted him on additional charges.

After arriving in town, Updyke was charged, booked and had to go through the process of bonding out before the start of the scheduled hearing.  

He entered a not guilty plea by reason of mental disease and defect for the new charges.

Updyke was previously indicted on two felony counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two felony counts for unlawful damage, vandalism or theft of property and two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerated object.

A status hearing on the case will be scheduled in August.  We'll bring you the latest information as soon as it becomes available.

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