- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) - It’s still alive.

An Ohio judge said Tuesday he plans to rule on March 15 on a man’s challenge to zoning citations for a holiday “Zombie Nativity” display in his front yard.

Jasen Dixon faces thousands of dollars in fines from the Cincinnati suburb of Sycamore Township. His attorneys are urging Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Brad Greenberg to dismiss the case, saying the township is trying to suppress his “artistic, political and religious speech.”

Dixon has set up the display the last two Decembers. It features ghoulish figures in place of the baby Jesus and others who would be in traditional Christmas Nativities.

Township officials have declared that they aren’t anti-zombie but are enforcing rules about an improper “accessory use” structure housing the nativity scene.

An attorney for the township, Robert Butler, said Tuesday that Dixon already has an appeal pending before the zoning board Feb. 16.

“He knew of his opportunity to appeal,” Butler said. “And we’re prepared to give him that.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Dixon’s attorney, Rob Linneman, said that doesn’t affect the case pending before Greenberg, which he described as a First Amendment issue.

“We think Mr. Dixon has the right to use his yard to express himself,” Linneman said.

Three protesters in horror makeup demonstrated for free expression Tuesday outside the courthouse.

One was John Forest Thomer, who was jailed for contempt of court last month for standing outside the courthouse making zombie-like growls through a megaphone, which another judge said disrupted his courtroom.

“This is America,” Thomer told The Enquirer on Tuesday, while wearing a jail inmate-style shirt and makeup.

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