Butler County prosecutor 'dismisses' case against groundhog for late spring

Wants death penalty considered

CINCINNATI - March 20 marked the first day of spring, which is why many Tri-State residents were disappointed to find snow on the ground when they woke up the next morning.

It always seems like Mother Nature refuses to cooperate when we need her to the most, especially after a long, grueling winter, and the possibility of a snow storm on the way.

But what about that Punxsutawney Phil?

Thousands gathered on Gobbler's Knob in Pennsylvania on Feb. 2 to watch the famous groundhog. And as many had hoped, the rodent didn't see his shadow, which according to tradition signifies there was supposed to be an early spring.

That's an issue the Butler County Court of Common Pleas wish they could take up in court. In jest, officials wrote up a fake indictment that contends in part, "Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early."

The sentiment of the 'indictment,' however, was very much real.

After months of cloudy days and brisk breezes, the Tri-State is ready for a burst of warm sunshine and a perhaps a change of 'greenery.'

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser even called for the death penalty to be brought upon Phil as his punishment, if convicted.

"I think the defense is going to be ignorance that Punxutawney Phil doesn't know his rear-end from a hole in the ground," said Gmoser.

The "defense" fired back on WCPO.com, stating Frosty the Snowman, Kris Kringle, even some elves possibly conspired against the groundhog.

Gmoser said the phone has been ringing off the hook at his office as people shared their distaste for the allegations. But Gmoser said it's all in fun.

On Tuesday, the case against the groundhog was dismissed after Gmoser noted that Punxsutawney Phil's handler had stepped up and taken full responsibility for misinterpreting the defendant's prediction of an early Spring.

"It's a little bit of humor on Punxsutawney Phil at the end of winter, the beginning of spring to lighten people's spirits," said Gmoser.

View the lawsuit and dismissal below or visit https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/626402-indictment.html for mobile and tablet users.


Stay up on the First Warning Weather 7-Day Forecast to find out when spring might show its face at http://www.wcpo.com/subindex/weather/forecast/7_day_forecast.

Reporter Tony Mirones contributed to this report.

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