A New Hampshire jury acquitted 26-year-old commercial trucker Volodymyr Zhukovskyy this week on all charges in the deaths of seven veteran motorcycle club members during a 2019 head-on collision.
While under the influence of illegal drugs, Zhukovskyy collided with a group of veteran motorcyclists known as Jarheads M.C. on June 21, 2019, killing seven, including U.S. Marine veterans, and injuring several others.
Those killed included Jarheads Motorcycle Club president Albert Mazza Jr., Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, Michael Ferazzi, Desma Oakes, Daniel Pereira and Aaron Perry.
Zhukovskyy, who was driving a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck, had allegedly crossed a double yellow line into oncoming traffic. According to a laboratory examination report Zhukovskyy tested positive for cocaine, fentanyl and opiates following the crash.
Zhukovskyy was also reportedly reaching for a drink at the time of the crash.
Zhukovskyy was charged with seven counts of manslaughter, seven counts of negligent homicide and one count of reckless conduct.
After a 12-day trial, a jury at the Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster returned “not guilty” verdicts on all charges.
Judge Peter H. Bornstein of Superior Court dismissed eight drug and alcohol charges against Zhukovskyy during the trial. Bornstein argued that there was insufficient evidence for a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Zhukovskyy had been impaired at the time of the crash.
Jay Duguay, Zhukovskyy’s public defender, argued during the trial that witness accounts of the accident had been contradictory. He also argued that Mazza had actually caused the crash because he was “driving his motorcycle while drunk, wasn’t looking where he was going, lost control of his bike and just slid into the oncoming truck.”
Prosecutors argued that while Mazza’s impairment was a “poor choice” on his part, it was not proof he caused the accident.
According to the New York Times, the New Hampshire assistant attorney general said during closing arguments that “Not one person saw Mazza impaired or driving off the road. But every person on that road saw the defendant all over it.”
In a statement to the Associated Press, Zhukovskyy’s family said they are grateful to God, the court and the defense team for an “honest and fair trial.”
“Our family expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends affected by this tragedy,” Zhukovskyy’s family said. His family described him as a “very honest and kind man” and said, “he would never have done anything to hurt anyone.”
Prosecutor Scott Chase called the effort to blame Mazza for the crash “fanciful story” and “frivolous distraction.” Chase also noted that Zhukovskyy told first responders “Obviously, I caused the crash.”
Chase said Zhukovskyy “was crystal clear from the very beginning that he caused this crash.”
“That is what he said, because that is what happened,” Chase continued.
“Killing seven people and he gets off. That is unbelievable,” Mazza’s father, Albert Mazza Sr., said in reaction to the verdict.
“It doesn’t make much sense,” Mazza Sr. said. “There are seven people dead. There are seven families affected. It’s strange that he didn’t get something.”
Mazza Sr. described his son as a “good man” and said the defense was wrong to blame his son for the accident.