Groundhog Club co-handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil after the club said Phil did not see his shadow and there will be an early spring, on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2, 2013, in Punxsutawney, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Six weeks after weather-predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil signaled that spring would arrive early, much of the country remains in the throes of winter, with more storms on the way.
Yes, Phil blew his big forecast - big time.
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And while some might just shrug off the mistake, officials in Butler County, Ohio, won't let it go that easily.
On March 21, the county's prosecuting attorney Michael Gmoser indicted the groundhog, alleging that Phil "did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that Spring would come early."
The indictment continues:
What's more, Gmoser alleges that Phil committed an unclassified felony, and he believes the rodent deserves the death penalty. In the words of the indictment:
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.
Gmoser needn't look far for support. Internet users far and wide lashed out at the groundhog in recent days, calling him a liar and calling for his head.
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.
The humorous newspaper "The Onion" even got in on the action, publishing a story on March 18 entitled, "Punxsutawney Phil Beheaded for Inaccurate Prediction on Annual Groundhog Slaughtering Day."
So, does Gmoser really want to see Phil pay the ultimate price for his failed forecast?
Not exactly. Regarding any potential litigation, the prosecutor told The Washington Post, "I hope everyone understands it's tongue-in-cheek..."
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