By Christina Chambers
Opelika Police say Harvey Updyke Jr. was allegedly assaulted Wednesday afternoon, after he left the Lee County Justice Center. Captain Allan Elkins said it happened in the parking lot of Tiger Express, located on Birmingham Highway in Opelika.
Updyke told police he pulled into the Tiger Express to make a purchase, but as he was getting out of his vehicle, he said he was assaulted by one or more people. Updyke told police he never saw who hit him. But he said he believes there was more than one person involved.
Updyke said he was punched in the face and had several small abrasions and scratches. After the alleged assault, Updyke left the convenience store to seek medical attention at the East Alabama Medical Center. Police said he then returned to Tiger Express to see if they had surveillance footage of the incident. He told police that if a suspect is found, he is interested in seeking prosecution.
Updyke is accused of poisoning the beloved Toomer's Corner oak trees. He appeared in court for the first time Wednesday since he bonded out of jail. His attorney, Glennon Threatt waived his right to a preliminary hearing and the case will now go to a grand jury. Threatt asked Judge Russell Bush to change Updyke's bond conditions, allowing him to live with relatives in Louisiana. "He has a lot of family members that love him and are concerned about him and we believe he needs to be in a protective environment,"said Threatt.
Updyke was arrested back in February after Auburn police said he poisoned the oak trees at Toomer's corner. "My client is pleading not-guilty," said Threatt.
Threatt also said he made a request on Monday to Lee County District Attorney Robbie Treese for a plea deal. "I approached the DA's office with an offer, that would have resulted in a resolution to the case, but Treese said he could do it at this time," said Threatt.
Threatt said he is not asking for a change of venue at this time, but said he is considering the option.
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