AUBURN, AL (WTVM) – It appears the trial of the Alabama fan accused of poisoning these iconic twin oaks at Toomer's corner will not happen in March. There will be a new venue and a new judge in the case if Harvey Updyke's defense team has its way.
Friday, the defense asked Judge Jacob Walker to recuse himself or step down from the trial, citing his ties to Auburn University.
In response to that motion Monday, Judge Walker stated in court was the only judge at the Justice Center that did not go to Auburn, but family members and employees have attended the university.
But Updyke's defense seemed most concerned with the judge's activities on Auburn game days, which the judge discussed in court.
Updyke's defense attorney Everett Wess said, "We believe a reasonable person may see the judge as not being impartial because of his ties to Auburn. In court today he talked about going to the site and rolling the oak trees when he was younger and taking his children out there to roll the trees."
Judge Walker did not recuse himself from the case Monday, but says he will continue to research the matter and issue an opinion.
Meanwhile, Updyke's defense team also asked for a change of venue, saying it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in Lee County. Judge Walker did not deny the motion, saying change of venue will be appropriate to look at during actual jury selection.
The defense team told the judge they will not be ready for the March trial. It appears the trial date will be pushed back, but a new date has not been set.
The defense team has made it clear they do not want to go to trial; they are trying to make a deal with the state. So far a deal has not been reached.
News Leader 9 asked Updyke's attorney about his client being seen and photographed on Bourbon Street during Alabama's National Championship appearance. His attorney confirms Updyke lives in Louisiana and was in New Orleans during that time, but says he did not go to the game.