Attorneys presented opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a Massachusetts man accused of recklessly causing the deaths of seven members of a motorcycle club — who are now known as the Fallen Seven.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, of West Springfield, is facing charges including negligent homicide and manslaughter, for allegedly causing a horrific scene on the roadway in Randolph, New Hampshire back in June of 2019, where seven bikers died and others were injured.
Zhukovskyy has pleaded not guilty to the charges, so it will be up to the jury to decide if he bears criminal responsibility.
"The defendant was out of control," Coos County Attorney John McCormick said in his opening statement.
McCormick insisted Zhukovskyy, a commercial trucker, had consumed heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine before going to work hauling a car carrier to northern New Hampshire.
"He knew what the risks were and he didn’t care," McCormick told jurors, adding that Zhukovskyy was all over the road with his truck and trailer and not paying attention to Route 2 in Randolph. “[He] smashed through their group like a wrecking ball.”
The victims were all from a U.S. Marines motorcycle club called The Jarheads, who the state will argue were riding in their own lane.
The Fallen Seven were Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, a couple from Lakeville, Massachusetts; Michael Ferazzi, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, of Farmington, New Hampshire; and Daniel Pereira, of Riverside, Rhode Island.
The victims’ ages ranged from 42 to 62.
"For all the people he killed and injured, we’ll ask you to find him guilty," the lead prosecutor said of Zhukovskyy in his opening presentation to jurors.
The defense, however, pledged to vigorously oppose the prosecution’s case.
"Volodymyr Zhukovskyy is not the one who caused this accident," defense attorney Steve Mirkin said in his opening statement.
Mirkin claimed his client wasn’t necessarily impaired, and countered that the lead motorcyclist was under the influence of alcohol and glancing elsewhere — so might’ve been to blame.
Zhukovskyy’s attorneys also revealed they’ll question the police work in the case and the reliability of certain witnesses.
"Vlad Zhukovskyy is not guilty of any of these charges," Mirkin told jurors.
Following the opening statements, several witnesses described a fiery and upsetting crash scene they came upon on Route 2 more than three years ago.
"It felt almost like coming upon a plane crash," witness Jim Anderson testified.
Miranda Thompson, whose cell phone photos of the crash scene were entered into evidence, recalled seeing people in need of medical aid — and others for whom it would’ve been too late.
“From dead bodies to debris everywhere,” Thompson testified of what she remembered seeing on Route 2.
Most family and friends of crash victims declined to speak to reporters on the first day of courtroom proceedings.
However, one widow of a motorcyclist who was killed told NECN & NBC10 Boston off-camera that she is eager to see justice for the Fallen Seven.
The defense attorney told the jurors to brace for two to three weeks’ worth of evidence in this case. He offered no indications from his opening remarks to the jury whether the defendant will take the stand in his own defense.
Jurors visited the crash scene Monday and traced Volodymyr Zhukovskyy’s route from an auto dealership in Gorham along U.S. Route 2 to the crash site in Randolph, about 10 miles away.