The Washington Post

Ohio prosecutor seeks death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil after bad forecast

Update, Friday, 4:10 p.m.: Pa. law group warns Ohio official to “cease and desist” prosecution of Punxsutawney Phil

From Thursday, 4:38 p.m.: As severe cold grips the eastern U.S. on March 21, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast for an early spring is best described as an epic failure.  The prosecuting attorney of Butler County, Ohio, Michael Gmoser, wants the groundhog to pay for his flawed prediction, with his life.

Gmoser filed an indictment against Phil which reads accordingly:

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.

SPECIFICATION: The people further find and specify that due to the aggravating circumstances and misrepresentation to the people that the death penalty be implemented to the defendant, Punxsutawney Phil

Gmoser said in a phone interview that waking up to snow and temperatures in the teens on the second day of spring motivated the indictment.

“When he betrays us like this, something has to be done,” Gmoser said.

Gmoser expects Phil to appeal.

“His defense will be he didn’t know his rear end from a hole in the ground,” Gmoser said.

The indictment comes just three days after satirically wrote the groundhog had been beheaded for his inaccurate prediction.

Post script

To close the interview, Gmoser confided he was just having “a little fun” with the indictment.

“This is a story that has legs,” Gmoser joked. “I hope everyone understands it’s tongue-in-cheek…”

EARLIER: No shadow for Phil, groundhog predicts early spring

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Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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