The trial of accused Auburn tree poisoner Harvey Updyke has been put on hold. According to Al.com, the judge in the case said the jury pool is so tainted that it would be impossible for Updyke to get a fair trial.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker granted a continuance in the case. He also said he’d consider the defense’s request for a change of venue at a later date.
Walker cited Updyke’s reported confession to a student newspaper reporter during a break in court proceedings on Tuesday.
“(The story) created more news and media attention about the case than there already was,” Walker said.
Walker interviewed several jurors Thursday morning and became concerned over how many had heard about the apparent confession through the media or from friends.
One juror talked about the case with her doctor, while another talked about it with his brother. Another juror chatted about the case with customers during sales calls.
Prosecutors say Updyke allegedly poisoned the 130-year-old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner that have been the site of celebrations following Auburn football victories.
He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of criminal mischief and two counts of desecrating a venerable object, among other charges.
Updyke could spend several years in prison if he’s convicted.