updated 1/27/2009 7:54:32 PM ET 2009-01-28T00:54:32

A grand jury refused Tuesday to indict two men who hung an effigy of Barack Obama from a tree on the University of Kentucky campus during the height of the presidential campaign.

Joe Fischer and Hunter Bush faced multiple charges, including disorderly conduct, for hanging the likeness of Obama with a noose around its neck on the Lexington campus.

Defense attorney Fred Peters said Fayette County grand jurors realized the incident "was blown way out of proportion."

Fischer, 22, and Bush, 21, said they were relieved.

"I'm extremely, extremely, extremely sorry for whoever I offended," Bush said. "It was just a political prank. We didn't mean any harm."

Fischer and Bush were arrested in late October for hanging the effigy — an Obama mask atop a stuffed shirt and pants.

Charges included theft and burglary for allegedly taking the shirt and pants from the Farm House International Fraternity. Peters said members of Fischer's and Bush's former fraternity testified on their behalf.

The effigy was one several in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 4 election. George Fox University, a small Christian college in Oregon, punished four students who confessed to hanging a likeness of Obama from a tree there.

No criminal charges were filed in other cases of political effigies, including a likeness of GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin that hung from a tree in a California man's yard. Peters said the Palin effigy is what prompted Fischer and Bush to act.

Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson said he didn't want to second-guess the grand jury's decision.

More on: Obama effigy

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