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Are Punxsutawney Phil's days numbered after an Ohio prosecutor indicted him and said he deserves the death penalty?
An Ohio prosecutor says Punxsutawney Phil should be predicting the weather from six feet under.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Michael Gmoser, the prosecuting attorney in Butler County, filed court papers this week indicting the world-famous groundhog for "misrepresentation of early spring" and announcing his intention to seek the death penalty.
"This is a ground-breaking indictment," Gmoser said Friday as he fielded phone calls from around the world about the light-hearted legal battle. "There's a lot of people who want a piece of him. I know because I'm getting recipes from around the country."
On Feb. 2, Phil forecast an early spring when he emerged from his Pennsylvania home and did not see his shadow. Six weeks later, Gmoser looked out his window to snow, high winds and frigid air.
"I said to someone, 'Phil let us down. I ought to indict the little rascal.' They said, 'Why don't you?' and I said, 'I think I will,'" the prosecutor said.
He said he had to seek the ultimate penalty because otherwise the indictment would have had no teeth.
Courtesy Butler County prosecutor's office
Butler County prosecutor Michael Gmoser filed indictment papers against Punxsutawney Phil for falsely predicting an early spring.
"Phil right now is in jail, behind bars, serving a life sentence. Because of that, there's nothing left for Phil but the death penalty," Gmoser said.
He was laughing, but sadly, not everyone got the joke.
"Frankly, I have received a number of phone calls from people who think this is a serious story," he said. "It's a spoof. We do some real serious work regarding rape, murder and mayhem and it's something to lighten the spirits of folks around here."
Phil could not be reached for comment, but Jeffrey Lundy, vice president of the Punxsutawney Ground Hog Club, said there was no chance of extradition.
“He's going to have to go through 15 licensed hunters to get to Phil,” Lundy told Triblive.com.