After Auburn won against Louisiana State University on Saturday September 24, Auburn resident 29-year-old Jochen Wiest set one of the Toomer’s oak trees on fire.
The police originally detained him on charges of public intoxication, but have since then added “desecration of a venerable object” to his offenses. A black lighter was found in his pocket and Auburn students Herron Taylor and Brendan McGowan helped to identify him.
On Monday an initial court hearing was held at the Lee Country Justice Center. The Plainsman reported that Wiest was released the 28th on a $4,500 bond. This was done under the condition that he forfeit his passport and remain in the state of Alabama, al.com said. Wiest is originally from Germany, but is currently an Auburn resident with no affiliation to the university.Fox News reported that since the damage exceeded $2,500, he will be tried for 1st degree criminal mischief. Along with the verdict of Wiest’s case, the fate of the tree is still unknown.
One of Auburn’s own horticulture professors, Gary Keever, told The Plainsman that he does not believe the damage is irreparable.
“Based on the initial appearance of the tree, I don’t think the fire has killed the tree, however, aesthetic death, when the tree declines to such an extent that it detracts from the landscape and there is little chance of it returning to its full grandeur, may warrant consideration of removal as a result of this act,” Keever said.
While the oak tree on W. Magnolia will continue to be inspected and looked after, it may take months to come to a full conclusion. Keever said that regrowth may only begin once spring arrives.
For this weekend’s game against Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn University has asked its students to only roll the trees on College Street, WKRG said.