A jury has found Volodomyr Zhukovskyy not guilty on all counts in a 2019 crash that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire.
Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, was found not guilty of negligent homicide, manslaughter and reckless operation in the June 21, 2019, crash on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire.
The jury returned the verdict after about three hours of deliberating following a two-week trial.
Jailed since the crash, Zhukovskyy appeared to wipe away tears as the verdict was read and briefly raised his index finger skyward before leaving the courtroom.
Defense attorney Jay Duguay argued the lead motorcyclist for the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, Albert “Woody” Mazza, 59, who was killed in the crash, was to blame in the crash. Duguay said Mazza was drunk and drifted over the center line and into the path of Zhukovskyy’s truck.
Prosecutors argued Zhukovskyy was at fault in the crash.
“In his own words, (he said) that he crossed the line, just a little bit — he made sure to qualify, ‘just a little bit’ — and then he hit those motorcycles that were right there,” said Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase. “You’ll have that interview. Go through it again.”
The defense also worked to discredit witness testimony, especially from the Jarheads, pointing out inconsistencies in their testimony, including how much people had been drinking that day.
“Those witnesses were all over the place about what they recalled and what they claimed to have seen,” said defense attorney Jay Duguay.
Duguay also accused prosecutors of ignoring that their own accident reconstruction unit contradicted their theory that Zhukovskyy crossed into the oncoming lane. An expert hired by the defense, meanwhile, testified that the crash happened on the center line of the road and would have occurred even if the truck was in the middle of its lane because Mazza’s motorcycle was heading in that direction.
“From the beginning of this investigation, the state had made up their mind about what had happened, evidence be damned,” Duguay said.
Mazza and the six other motorcyclists who died were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and ranged in age from 42 to 62. They were part of a larger group that had just left a motel along the highway and were headed to an American Legion Post for a fundraiser.
“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Our trial team did an excellent job and we firmly believe that the State proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said in a statement.