New Hampshire

Judge Considers Suppressing Statements in NH Biker Crash Case

Attorneys for Volodymyr Zhukovskyy say their client indicated during a police interview last year that he didn't want to answer any more questions

AP/NBC10 Boston

The pickup driver whose collision with a group of bikers last year left seven motorcyclists dead made some statements to police that should not be part of his upcoming trial, his lawyers told a judge in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Attorneys for Volodymyr Zhukovskyy said their client indicated during the police interview last June that he was not able to continue the interview, and that the continuation of questioning was a violation of his Miranda rights.

"Right now, I don't even want to answer anything. Like, I'm just out of it," Zhukovskyy told police, according to a transcript included in the court filings.

Police halted the interview briefly before continuing to question Zhukovskyy about drug use and his actions the day of the crash, Zhukovskyy's attorney Steve Mirkin said in the pretrial hearing.

"I would submit the appropriate question would have been, 'What do you mean you don't want to answer questions? Does that mean you are describing how you feel or you are asserting right to stop questioning?'" Zhukovskyy's attorney Steve Mirkin told the court, adding that it was not his client's responsibility to know what "magic words" to use to stop the interview.

Prosecutors argued Zhukovskyy's comment was ambiguous and did not merit ending the interview.

The lone witness in the video hearing, New Hampshire State Police Sgt. Michael McLaughlin, was present for the questioning. He confirmed that Zhukovskyy had been read the Miranda warning at the beginning of the interview, understood it and waived those rights.

When Zhukovskyy talked about not feeling well and wanting to stop, McLaughlin testified that he interpreted that as a description of how he felt after coming off drugs not that he was refusing to answer any further questions.

Prosecutors have previously submitted documents objecting to Zhukovskyy's request for bail in which they allege that he had fentanyl, morphine and a chemical found in cocaine in his system that day, and told authorities he often would take drugs before starting work.

"If this was an unambiguous and unequivocal statement, there wasn't any clarification needed," Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase told the court. "But at no point does the state ever concede that it was anything other than an ambiguous statement."

Zhukovskyy, appearing in an orange prison jumpsuit and wearing a mask, sat next to his attorneys but did not speak during the hearing.

No date has been set for the trial.

Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein said he would take the matter under advisement and issue a ruling later.

Zhukovskyy has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of negligent homicide and driving under the influence. He remains in custody as he awaits trial.

The crash happened on June 21, 2019, in Randolph.

The seven victims were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, a New England group that includes Marines and their spouses. The victims were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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