Ohio Prosecutor Wants Punxutawney Phil to Die

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 22 2013 11:43 AM

Ohio County Prosecutor Is Cold, Wants Punxutawney Phil to Die

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Punxsutawney Phil, at the scene of the crime.

Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

Once again, life imitates the Onion as an Ohio prosecutor official issued an "indictment" for Punxsutawney Phil.

Apparently, Butler County prosecutor Mike Gmoser is still feeling a chill despite the Groundhog Day rodent's prediction of an early spring. The indictment (which is clearly tongue-in-cheek) reads (emphasis ours): 

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On or about February 02, 2013, at Gobbler's Knob, Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early. Contrary to the Groundhog day report, a snowstorm and record low temperatures have been and are predicted to continue in the near future, which constitutes the offense of MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING, a Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State Of Ohio ...The people further find and specify that due to the aggravating circumstances and misrepresentation to the people that the death penalty be implemenied to the defendant, Punxsutawney Phil.

You can see the full document here, via ABC affiliate WCPO. Phil's handlers quickly got in on the joke, insisting that the groundhog is innocent. "If you remember two weeks ago on a Sunday, it was probably 60, 65 degrees," handler John Griffiths said, according to CNN. "So, I mean, that basically counts as an early spring." As the Associated Press helpfully notes, the region is expecting another storm on Sunday that could deliver another 4 to 8 inches of snow. Happy spring, everyone! 

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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