Just days after imposing the death penalty on Punxsutawney Phil for “misrepresentation of early spring,” Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has dismissed the charge.
The tongue-in-cheek direct indictment against the famous Pennsylvania groundhog over his “prediction” of an early spring was distributed by email Thursday in response to a snowy forecast just a week before Easter.
The dismissal issued today by email stated, “It appears to the prosecutor that Punxsutawney Phil has a defense with teeth in it — his handler stepped up to the burrow to take full responsibility for misinterpreting said defendant’s prediction of an early Spring — the charge against Punxsutawney Phil is hereby dismissed.”
Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, said Monday the furry prognosticator had actually predicted six more weeks of winter, but he mistakenly announced an early spring because he failed to correctly interpret Phil’s “groundhog-ese.”
“Now it turns out, Punxsutawney Phil is little more than a scapegoat,” Gmoser wrote in the dismissal.
Gmoser added in the indictment, “In these serious times, I hope this case brought a light-hearted moment to all concerned with a warm welcome to Spring ahead.”
The prosecutor said he has received a number of letters and calls about the declaration, including from a teacher who is using the story as a creative writing teaching tool.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.