Updyke trial pushed to October, defense criticizes media publicity

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - A Lee County Circuit Judge delayed the Harvey Updyke trial, saying the jury pool was tainted. The trial has been rescheduled for October 1. 

Earlier, Judge Jacob Walker granted Updyke's defense attorney's request for a continuance citing media publicity around the trial. He said 10 out of the 31 potential jurors had either read, seen or been contacted by a family member who wanted to talk about the trial.

Defense attorney Evertt Wess also spoke briefly to News Leader 9 Thursday morning; he says he will file a motion to suppress comments his client is alleged to have made to Andrew Yawn, a reporter for the Plainsman.

Yawn wrote that Updyke confessed to poisoning the trees during court recess in an article published in the Auburn University student newspaper on Tuesday. Wess says Updyke claims he never made those statements or confession to the student reporter. Yawn has been issued a subpoena and could be called to testify.  Wess is trying to keep that from happening saying the confession is false.

Jury selection has stretched into day three. Potential jurors are being questioned as to whether or not they have heard or seen any news reports since jury selection began. About a dozen said they had and were called in individually to give specifics.

A few potential jurors had heard details about the Plainsmen article in which the student reporter claimed Updyke confessed to poisoning the trees.

Judge Walker has banned still cameras and video cameras from covering the Updyke trial.

Court administrators did not give a reason for why the judge issued the camera ban, but cameras are allowed outside the Lee County Justice Center to interview attorney's who are not restricted from speaking by a gag order.

News Leader 9's Elizabeth White will continue reporting on the trial. We'll have the latest information as soon as it becomes available.

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