Jakubowski's lawyer criticizes Sheriff Spoden for comments on case

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Frank Schultz
Friday, October 20, 2017

JANESVILLE--The lawyer for Joseph Jakubowski criticized the Rock County sheriff Thursday for the sheriff's statements about the manhunt for Jakubowski in April.

Jakubowski, 33, faces state charges of burglary while arming himself, theft and possession of burglary tools.

The burglary of a Janesville gun shop in April touched off a 10-day manhunt involving dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officials, school closings and warnings that Jakubowski might use the weapons he stole.

Attorney Michael Murphy spoke to reporters after a court hearing Thursday and was asked about the difficulties of defending Jakubowski.

“There's a lot of adverse publicity in this case, and a lot of it was generated, in my belief, by the elected sheriff in this county, and his statements--made repeatedly, I thought---made it almost too difficult for Mr. Jakubowski to receive a fair trial in Rock County,” Murphy said.

Murphy said Sheriff Bob Spoden's statements indicated of Jakubowski's manifesto suggested he was intent on violence.

Jakubowski mailed the 161-page document to President Donald Trump the same day as the burglary.

“I was never able to find anything in that manifesto that indicated he was violent, so I disagree with the statements made by the sheriff,” Murphy said

Spoden reacted to the criticism, saying he and Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore were sharing information so residents could keep themselves safe, and an FBI public-relations person briefed them daily on what they should say.

“We made it clear we didn't know what his intentions were,” Spoden said, noting that experts on national TV did speculate on Jakubowski's intentions.

“We know he stole a lot of guns. We know he bought bullet-proof vests, so we had to go on the assumption that he could be a serious risk to our community,” Spoden said.

Spoden speculated Murphy is trying to get the trial moved to another county. Murphy said he might have tried to do so if the trial had been set earlier, but he said publicity about the case has been minimal in recent months.

At Thursday's hearing, Murphy asked that Jakubowski's trial, set for Monday, be postponed until January.

Jakubowski is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 20 in federal court.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Madison found Jakubowski guilty Sept. 26 on federal charges of stealing from a federally licensed firearms dealer and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Judge James Daley rescheduled the Rock County Court trial for Jan. 22.

Jakubowski's intentions have been difficult to determine

Murphy has said Jakubowski had no intention of harming anyone and wanted to live “off the grid” somewhere in the West.

In a letter he left for the gun shop owner, Jakubowski wrote: “I'm not only protecting my people but am now fighting for our freedom. The time has come for revolution!”

He did not clarify what he meant by revolution.

In his manifesto, Jakubowski wrote: “I come in peace! However, if any individual or those of this terrorist system force their will ... force their aggression and violence to life ... I as a free individual have the right to protect and defend life. Trust me I will! It is very simple as far as I'm concerned ... give me freedom ... or give me death!”

An acquaintance of Jakubowski's told police Jakubowski told him he wanted to rob the gun store, hide the guns, burn his vehicle and then “go about the rest of his mission” and that Jakubowski wanted to “hurt people” in a building, according to a search warrant request.

Thirteen of the guns Jakubowski is accused of stealing have never been found. Jakubowski said they were too heavy, so he dropped them on his journey to western Wisconsin, where he was caught, but he has not told authorities where they might be found.

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