The long winter season has apparently become too much for one Butler County, Ohio, man to handle.
Prosecuting Attorney Michael T. Gmoser filed an indictment against annual Pennsylvania weather predictor Punxsutawney Phil, after the rodent didn’t see his shadow this year, incorrectly predicting an early spring, Fox19 reported Thursday.
"I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing, the snow was flying, the temperatures were falling and I said, 'Punxsutawney, you let us down,'" said Gmoser, who believes he is the only one who can stand up for the injustice and is seeking the death penalty.
“Since he’s already serving a life sentence behind bars, as you know, there wasn’t much left as far as a penalty other than a death sentence,” said Gmoser.
The full one-count indictment, which can be viewed online, states the animal’s prediction as a “misrepresentation of early spring,” calling it an unclassified felony against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio.
“Punxsutawney Phil did purposefully and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early,” said the letter.
Gmoser spoke to CNN Friday saying he is trying to get back at Pennsylavnia, who he says celebrate the ceremony to "laugh" at the rest of the country.
"We are trying to have a last laugh. You know, there is an old saying that prosecturos can indict a cheeseburger if they want to. Well, we're changing all that. We can indict a groundhog," said Gmoser, calling it groundbreaking legislation.
President of the Punxsutawney club, Bill Deeley, told the Washington Post that he thinks the indictment accusations were “very harsh” and that has since increased security in Gobbler’s Knob, near where Phil lives.
“Right next to where Phil stays is the police station,” said Deeley. “They’ve been notified and they said they will keep watching their monitors.”
Vice-President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, Jeffrey Lundy, said he has also put protections in place for Phil.
“He is going to have to go through 15 licensed hunters to get to Phil,” said Lundy. “There’s a lot of things to get serious about. Groundhog Day is not one of them.”
One of Phil’s handlers, John Griffiths, says he believes the animal was correct in his prediction.
“If you remember two weeks ago on a Sunday, it was probably 60, 65 degrees,” said Griffiths. “So, I mean, basically that counts as an early spring.”
While some fans of Phil are taking the indictment as a joke, others are upset with Gmoser for trying to punish the four-legged creature.
“How about this prosecutor be FIRED today for even considering this, or even taking three seconds to discuss it. Tie him down and let the groundhogs eat away at him,” said commenter nicky1430.
“It’s nice to see a news story once in awhile that doesn’t involve someone gunning someone down or North Korea making more threats or President Obama did or didn’t do this. Take the joke, enjoy the laugh,” said commenter Nate.