OPELIKA, Ala. – Jochen Wiest, the German man accused of starting a tree fire at Toomer’s Corner, agreed to plead guilty. He had a hearing in Opelika on Wednesday.
AL.com reports Wiest admitted to setting an oak tree on fire after the Auburn vs. LSU game, and did not receive his passport back during the hearing to return home for the holidays.
“I fear the possibility that (Wiest) returns to Germany and … could stay in Germany and simply forfeit the money (for damages),” Lee County District Judge Steven Speakman told AL.com. “I am very hesitant to return the passport under those circumstances.”
It will cost an estimated $20,807 to replace the tree, and officials believe Wiest intends to pay the price. Wiest agreed to plead guilty to every charge: first-degree felony criminal mischief, desecration of a venerable object and public intoxication.
Wiest has another court appearance scheduled in January, AL.com reports.