Joseph Jakubowski was not allowed to testify at his trial in Rock County Court on Monday because he would not raise his hand to take the oath.
Jakubowski had earlier refused to swear an oath that included God, saying he doesn’t believe in God, and that was fine with Judge James Daley.
Jakubowski then said he would not raise his hand, saying he has seen many people lie after taking the oath and didn’t understand how raising his hand would make a difference.
Daley offered an alternative oath that does not mention God, which is spelled out in state law. It appeared Jakubowski was satisfied, but after Jakubowski sat at the witness stand and Daley tried to swear him in, he would not raise his hand.
“I’ll give you my word, but I’m not raising my hand,” Jakubowski said.
“Then you won’t testify,” Daley responded.
Defense attorney Michael Murphy conferred with Jakubowski and announced his client would not testify.
Wisconsin statute 906.03 says a witness is required to declare that the testimony will be truthful “by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken the witness’s conscience and impress the witness’s mind with the witness’s duty to do so.”
The statute goes on to say: “The assent to the oath or affirmation ... may be manifested by the uplifted hand.”
The exchange came at the end of a day of proceedings in the Janesville man’s trial.
The trial is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. today with final arguments from the attorneys and the judge instructing the jury about the law before the jury deliberates.
Jakubowski is accused of burglary while arming himself, theft and possession of burglary tools in an incident last April 4 that garnered national attention.
Jakubowski had sent a manifesto to President Donald Trump that day, complaining about elites he sees as controlling the country. That night, he later admitted, he burglarized Armageddon Supplies, a gun shop in the town of Janesville.
Eighteen firearms were taken in the burglary, and Jakubowski disappeared afterward, leading to a massive manhunt. Authorities were worried he might be planning an act of mass murder.
He was caught 10 days later, camping in western Wisconsin. Thirteen of the firearms remain missing.
The evidence against Jakubowski is substantial. Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan showed video recordings from the shop showing someone smashing the front door glass, diving through the hole in the glass and taking several long guns and handguns, ammunition, and magazines before leaving the shop.
Jakubowski later told investigators he had cut his knuckle in the process, according to the testimony of Detective Ronald Betley of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office.
Betley testified about the videos and evidence that included blood left on a metal stool in the shop.
Guns found with Jakubowski match those taken from the shop, Betley said.
An analyst from the state Crime Lab testified the DNA from blood on the stool matched Jakubowski.
Sullivan presented transcripts from Jakubowski’s trial in U.S. District Court last fall, when Jakubowski testified under oath that he committed the burglary and took the guns, although the Rock County jury wasn’t told Monday where the testimony occurred.
Murphy said in opening arguments that despite all the attention from news media and the fact that schools were closed at one point during the search, “The evidence will show this was not the crime of the century. ...
“What this boils down to is a run-of-the-mill business burglary and theft,” Murphy said.
Murphy later got Betley and shop owner Scott Kuhl to acknowledge that the burglar in the videos appears to be scooping up weapons, ammo and magazines without checking to see if they match.
Kuhl said Jakubowski took only .22-caliber ammunition, while the guns he took were of several different calibers, including two .22 handguns.
“I don’t know what he purchased someplace else,” Kuhl said.
Murphy also challenged the DNA evidence, asking if DNA from another person could have been on the stool, and why three blood samples on the stool were the only ones taken.
DNA analyst Bart Naugle said it was unlikely other DNA was on the stool.
Murphy, speaking while the jury was out, made a motion that Daley declare verdicts of not guilty because, Murphy said, the state had not met its burden of proof.
Sullivan contested the motion, but during that discussion Jakubowski spoke up, saying he wanted to explain his actions: “I know what I did. I fully admitted it,” he said.
Daley took over, explaining his reasoning for rejecting the motion. When he spoke about the DNA matching Jakubowski, Jakubowski spoke up again, questioning how anyone could know that the DNA analysis was correct.
Daley said the analyst is allowed to testify about what he did and what his opinion is, and the jury has the right to consider that opinion.
Jakubowski said opinions are not facts.
“It shouldn’t even be evidence, period,” he said.
Daley told him he was wrong.
Jury selection Monday morning included an immediate sidebar as Daley and the attorneys considered a Gazette article published that morning about the case.
Daley then excluded people from the jury pool if they had read the article.
Daley said the article contained “a bit too much information for a prospective juror.”