SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Man accused of poisoning trees says he was assaulted after court
The Alabama fan accused of poisoning landmark trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner told police he was assaulted at a gas station Wednesday shortly after leaving the courthouse. Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, told an officer he was attacked when he stepped out of his car at a gas station on Birmingham Highway, according to Opelika Police Capt. Allan Elkins. Updyke said he was punched in the head and believes there was more than one person involved, but he didn't see who did it. The gas station did not have surveillance video, and there were apparently no witnesses, police said. Updyke was treated for several small bruises and scratches at a hospital, Elkins said.
"All he told me is, he didn't see who hit him and he didn't know what he was hit with," Updyke's attorney, Glennon Threatt Jr., said. "He's scared, but he's OK. He said he doesn't remember being hit. He just blacked out and woke up on the ground."
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Earlier, Updyke had made a brief appearance in Lee County District Court, where his attorney waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Threatt said prosecutors had rejected what he called a "low-ball" plea deal to the district attorney's office on behalf of Updyke, who wore a crimson-colored tie to a preliminary hearing. The deal would have spared Updyke from going to jail.
Updyke, an Alabama fan who spent a night in jail after his arrest, is free on bond. He is charged with first-degree criminal mischief in the poisoning of the trees, where Auburn fans celebrate victories by heaving toilet paper into the branches of the 130-year-old oaks. If convicted, he could face one to 10 years in prison.
■ Former NFL great Lawrence Taylor has settled a child-support case involving a New Jersey woman. An attorney for the 12-year-old girl's mother says Taylor agreed Wednesday at a court hearing in Hackensack, N.J., to pay $650 per week. The mother, Ebony Washington of Secaucus, had been receiving about $450 per week and had sought more money. Taylor had sought to have the amount decreased. Attorney Debra Weisberg said Taylor also must pay about $20,000 to Washington and $30,000 to a joint accountant.
■ Former Michigan and NBA player Jalen Rose told authorities he hadn't been drinking but performed poorly on several tests to determine whether he was intoxicated after rolling his Cadillac Escalade on a snowy Michigan road, according to a police report. The report from the West Bloomfield Township police, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request, said Rose registered a 0.088 blood-alcohol level two hours after the March 11 crash. Michigan's legal limit is 0.08. Rose, 38, was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Jenkins, Ezeli, Taylor returning to Vandy
Sophomore guard John Jenkins, junior center Festus Ezeli and junior forward Jeffery Taylor will each return to Vanderbilt for the 2011-12 season. With the trio's decision, the Commodores will return all five starters and 10 letter winners from the 2010-11 team that finished 23-11. Coach Kevin Stallings commended the players for "the intelligent and diligent way" they made their decisions and said their return will position the Commodores for an exciting season.
Jenkins led the Southeastern Conference in scoring with 19.5 points and in three-pointers with 3.1 per game. Ezeli averaged 13.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Taylor averaged 14.7 points and 5.5 rebounds.
■ Mitch Henderson is coming back to Princeton to replace former teammate Sydney Johnson as the Tigers' basketball coach. This will be the first head coaching job for Henderson, who spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant at Northwestern under Bill Carmody, another former Princeton coach. Henderson, who helped Princeton reach the NCAA Tournament three times in the late 1990s, will take over a team that shared the Ivy League regular-season title and nearly upset Final Four-bound Kentucky in the first round of this year's tournament.
Vols add guard out of Oklahoma
Tennessee added guard Josh Richardson to its 2011 signing class Wednesday. The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Edmond, Okla., native averaged 16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists at Santa Fe High School after moving from the wing to point guard during his senior season. He was a member of the Oklahoma Coaches Association's All-State team. Rivals.com ranks him 121st nationally and the 37th best shooting guard. Richardson joins guards Chris Jones and Wes Washpun in the Volunteers' incoming freshman class.
■ South Carolina has signed point guard Brenton Williams for next year's class, Coach Darrin Horn announced on Wednesday. Horn had said bringing in a point guard was essential after last year's leading scorer, Bruce Ellington, decided he wanted to play football next fall before rejoining the basketball team. Williams is a 5-foot-11 guard from Kissimmee, Fla. He averaged nearly 12 points and two assists at Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Fla.
Sabres even series on Miller's 2nd shutout
Ryan Miller made 32 saves for his second shutout of the playoffs, and the host Buffalo Sabres beat the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 on Wednesday night to even the first-round playoff series 2-2. Jason Pominville's goal at 9:38 stood up as the winner as the Sabres bounced back from two straight losses. For Miller, it was his third career shutout and second of the series after he stopped 35 shots in Buffalo's 1-0 victory in Game 1.
Carl Lewis can continue run for N.J. office
Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis should be allowed to continue his bid for the New Jersey Senate because Republicans have failed to prove he doesn't live in the state, a judge ruled Wednesday. Administrative Law Judge John Schuster III recommended that a petition to strip Lewis' name from the June primary ballot be dismissed. The judge cautioned that he had not found that Lewis, among the greatest athletes of all time, had attained residency status — only that the challengers didn't meet the burden of proof that he lives elsewhere.
Lewis, who as a track star in the 1980s and '90s was noted for his blistering pace and dominance of the long jump and 100-meter dash, is a Democrat making his first run for elected office. Republicans challenged his bid to run in the primary by claiming he had not lived in the state the required four years.
"Mr. Lewis is the very definition of a carpetbagger who, despite his celebrity status, should have to play by the same rules as everybody else," GOP spokesman Chris Russell said.
Two soccer teams top Yanks in payroll
Barcelona and Real Madrid have overtaken the New York Yankees as the best-paid global sports teams, according to a British study. The review published Wednesday showed annual average pay during the 2009-10 season was $7.9 million at Barcelona and $7.4 million at Real Madrid. The Yankees are paying their players an average of $6.8 million this season. The team last year topped the review, which is compiled by Sportingintelligence.com and is being published by ESPN The Magazine. The NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic occupy the fourth and fifth spots.
UK tennis teams set for SEC tourney
Kentucky's 10th-seeded women's tennis team starts Southeastern Conference Tournament play against seven seed Louisiana State on Thursday at Tennessee. The Tigers beat the Cats 5-2 10 days ago in Baton Rouge, part of UK's five-match losing streak coming into the tournament. The men's team, seeded third, will play either No. 6 Auburn or No. 11 South Carolina on Friday at Florida.
The last word
Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane were in Vancouver to play the Canucks in the NHL playoffs this week and were crossing the street from the team hotel to grab a little sushi when, Kane said, they got a pre-dinner treat:
"An elderly lady was in a car, and she had the oxygen tubes up her nose, and she rolled down the window and gave us a certain gesture. It was awesome."