After one day of testimony, jury to decide Jakubowski guilt or innocence

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Frank Schultz
Monday, September 25, 2017

MADISON -- Joseph A. Jakubowski's federal court case could turn on the testimony of a Janesville police officer who fought Jakubowski in 2008.

The 33-year-old Janesville man faces two charges in federal court: stealing firearms in a burglary of a federally licensed firearms dealer in Janesville and being a felon in possession of firearms and silencers.

The officer's testimony was one of a series of remarkable events during the trial Monday in federal court in Madison, starting with the defense attorney saying his client committed the burglary to Armageddon Supplies gun shop April 4.

“He totally did it,” federal defender Joseph Bugni said in his opening statement.

Bugni then alluded to a hole in the prosecution's case, without elaborating. He asked the jury to pay attention, saying, “The devil's in the details.”

Late in the day, Jakubowski testified and admitted he committed the burglary.

The case went to the jury of 10 men and two women at about 5 p.m. The jury decided to call it a day and begin deliberating at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The Janesville officer was called to testify to show Jakubowski was indeed a felon, something that had to be proved for the second charge to be valid.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rita Rumbelow asked Janesville police Sgt. Jimmy Holford III to give Jakubowski's birth date.

“Objection!” said federal defender Joseph Bugni. Holford's knowledge of the birth date would be hearsay, which is not allowed in a trial, Bugni argued.

Federal Judge William Conley sustained the objection.

And indeed, Holford admitted he knew the birth date but only because he reviewed documents to prepare for trial.

Rumbelow asked to show Holford a copy of the police report, which would include the birth date. Conley called for a sidebar -- a private conference in the corner of the courtroom with the attorneys -- and then declared a break, sending the jury out.

Out of the jury's hearing, Conley told Rumbelow that if Holford couldn't remember the birth date on his own, all she could do was use documents to try to prove her point.

When testimony resumed, Rumbelow asked Holford if he remembered Jakubowski's personal information.

“No, but I definitely recognize him,” Holford said.

Rumbelow tried twice to get the police report entered into evidence. Bugni objected, and Conley agreed that would still be hearsay.

After another sidebar -- one of about eight during the trial, Bugni cross-examined Holford and got him to admit that details of cases tend to fade over the years.

Rumbelow followed by asking Holford if the fight was clear in his memory.

“Of any incident I've ever been involved in, this incident is the most clear,” Holford replied.

“And why is that,” Rumbelow asked.

“Because the defendant tried to kill me,” Holford said.

The criminal complaint from that case describes a fierce hand-to-hand battle in which Jakubowski repeatedly tried to pull Holford's gun from his holster.

Jakubowski later pleaded guilty to the felony charge of attempting to disarm a peace officer and was sentenced to three years probation.

The federal prosecutors also submitted a certified judgment of conviction, but Bugni argued Conley must dismiss the felon-in-possession charge because there was not enough evidence tying Jakubowski to the judgment of conviction.

Conley declined to acquit but said Bugni could ask the jury to do so.

Bugni also tried to contest the burglary charge, noting that the language of the indictment says Jakubowski burglarized a place “licensed to engage in the business of dealing firearms.”

Bugni noted that Scott Kuhl, owner of Armageddon Supplies gun shop, had a license to manufacture firearms.

Kuhl explained in his testimony that the federal firearms license also allows him to deal in firearms.

But Bugni, again while the jury was out, argued the charge was invalid. Conley disagreed, ruling the indictment was proper.

Jakubowski was dressed in a gray plaid, button-down shirt and dark slacks. His sleeves were rolled up, exposing tattoos on either forearm, and the shirt was unbuttoned about halfway down. He wore a white T-shirt. He sat quietly during the trial, occasionally talking to Bugni.

Jakubowski is accused of stealing 18 firearms and two silencers in the April 4 burglary. He then disappeared, leading to a massive, 10-day manhunt and fears among residents of what he might plan to do with the guns.

A western Wisconsin resident saw Jakubowski nine days later, camping on his property, and the next day, authorities took him into custody.

When an FBI agent testified about the arrest, he mentioned officers arrived at the remote location in an armored car. Conley immediately stopped him and told him to answer only the questions posed to him and told the jury to disregard.

Just before the burglary, Jakubowski sent a 161-page manifesto to President Donald Trump, complaining in part that as a convicted felon he was not allowed to possess firearms, something he claimed was his constitutional right.

Conley in a pretrial ruling forbade Jakubowski from discussing his grievances.

Other notable events from the day in court:

-- Forty-nine prospective jurors entered the courtroom, the largest jury pool Conley said he could remember. The reason seemed to be pretrial publicity, including an article published over the weekend.

Conley excused three jurors who said they had read the article. Conley said later he didn't understand why a newspaper would publish such a detailed article just before a trial, and at least twice he assured the prospective jurors that news articles frequently contain inaccuracies.

Conley dismissed three more prospective jurors who said they were familiar with the facts of the case and three who said they knew something about the case and that their knowledge would affect their abilities to be impartial.

Conley dismissed one woman who said she was a member of Moms Demand Gun Sense in America and that her affiliation would affect her ability to be impartial.

One man said he is a member of the National Rifle Association, but he said that wouldn't affect his impartiality. He was ultimately one of the 12 jurors chosen.

-- Jakubowski did not stand as Conley entered the courtroom Monday.

Jakubowski also would not stand when Conley was introducing prospective jurors to the prosecutors, defense attorneys and defendant.

“It would be appreciated, sir,” Conley said, but Jakubowski did not stand.

-- Jakubowski did stand after lunch as the jury entered the courtroom after lunch. No explanation was given.

-- Prosecutors showed video clips from the gun shop's surveillance system showing someone breaking the glass to the front door, jumping through the glass window and then hurriedly taking guns and other items from the shop.

They also took pains to show documents tying the stolen guns to those Jakubowski is accused of taking.

And, they had DNA evidence -- blood from a stool in the shop, after the burglar cut his hand while entering, that was matched to Jakubowski

They also showed photos of the makeshift tent where Jakubowski was found, together with close-ups of five firearms on the ground around the tent.

They showed short clips of Jakubowski admitting to the burglary in an interview with investigators.

-- Jakubowski did not raise his right hand as he was sworn in testify late in the day but answered “yes” when asked if he would tell the truth.

Bugni then asked him what happened on April 4.

“I broke in, and I robbed Armageddon Supplies,” he answered.

Bugni asked him what he took.

“Guns, magazines, bullets.”

Bugni asked him where he went afterward.

“I took off northwest.”

Bugni asked him where he was headed, and the prosecution objected, and Conley sustained.

Bugni then asked what Jakubowski's principal motivation was for testifying, leading to another objection.

Bugni argued that the answer would show Jakubowski's truthfulness and motivation.

Conley called another sidebar. Afterward, Bugni asked Jakubowski if he was there to tell the truth.

“I am,” Jakubowski responded.

Bugni had no further questions.

The prosecution asked no questions, and the defense rested.

-- In closing arguments, Bugni said the evidence was “overwhelming” that Jakubowski committed the burglary.

But the government did not prove Jakubowski is a convicted felon, Bugni argued.

They didn't question Jakubowski when they had the chance, so they didn't ask him his birth date or whether he is a convicted felon,” Bugni said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Antonio Trillo then asked for a sidebar, but Bugni was allowed to continue.

Bugni said prosecutors had the opportunity to prove their case, but they did not, so jurors should hold the government to their burden of proof and not convict Jakubowski of the felon-in-possession-of-firearms charge.

In rebuttal, Trillo noted Jakubowski had testified to his name, and Holford had identified him.

“It's him,” Trillo insisted.

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