‘Zombie Nativity’ man challenges Ohio zoning violation case

CINCINNATI (AP) – An Ohio man pledged Tuesday to not let his “zombie Nativity” display die without a fight, while an apparent supporter dressed as a zombie was jailed for contempt of court.

Jasen Dixon pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of violating zoning rules in the Cincinnati suburb of Sycamore Township. He is due back in court Feb. 2 for a hearing on the case.

“It’s a First Amendment issue,” Dixon told reporters outside a Hamilton County a courtroom, saying he’s not worried about potentially having to pay fines that could total in the thousands.

He’s been at odds with township officials the past two Decembers about his front yard display and said he made changes to comply.

It features ghoulish figures including a sharp-toothed creature in the manger where baby Jesus would be in traditional Christmas Nativities. It has drawn some complaints, but also widespread attention.

Dixon said he took the display down after Christmas, but he told WCPO-TV he plans to bring it back “bigger and better” next holiday season.

Township officials have declared that they aren’t anti-zombie, but are enforcing rules about an improper “accessory use” structure in a front yard.

In other zombie-related developments in Cincinnati on Tuesday, a man who wore make-up and dressed as a zombie in an apparent show of support for Dixon was held in contempt of court for disrupting an unrelated civil trial.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman found John Thomer, 28, guilty of contempt that obstructed the administration of justice.

Specifically, the judge wrote, he “was growling into a megaphone and disrupted my trial.”

Ruehlman said Thomer was given three chances to stop and refused. He added that he had him arrested “not for the content of his speech,” but because of the loud delivery method by megaphone.

Thomer was ordered held for three days in Hamilton County Jail. No messages could be left for him there Tuesday.

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