After approximately two hours of deliberations Tuesday in the trial of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the trucker accused of causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire in June of 2019, the jury found him not guilty of all charges.
The defendent kissed his fingers and appeared to look upward after hearing the verdict.
Relatives and loved ones of the so-called "Fallen Seven" left the courthouse in tears, with one woman overheard saying, "I'm so angry." Another said, "What am I going to tell my kids?"
Zhukovskyy, 26, was charged with negligent homicide, manslaughter and reckless conduct in connection with the June 21, 2019, crash in Randolph.
Prosecutors had argued that Zhukovskyy, who had taken heroin, fentanyl and cocaine that day, repeatedly swerved back and forth before the head-on crash and told police he caused it. But a judge dismissed eight charges related to whether he was impaired, and his attorney blamed the lead biker, Albert “Woody” Mazza, saying he lost control of his motorcycle and collided with the truck while driving drunk.
Testifying for the defense, William Howerton of Scientific Boston, Inc., was asked where the collision between Mazza’s motorcycle and Zhukovskyy’s truck occurred.
“The impact occurred on the double yellow line, directly over,” he said. “The left front wheel of the pickup truck was just a little bit left of center of the double yellow line, still on the yellow line.”
Howerton also said that based on his analysis, the truck was aligned with the road while the motorcycle was angled toward the center line just before impact. Asked if the crash would’ve happened had the truck been in the middle of its lane, he said, “ If the truck was in the middle of its lane, would the crash still have happened, he said, “Yes. The motorcycle was headed in that direction.”
The motorcyclists who died were members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club 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 in Gorham for a fundraiser.
Killed were Mazza, of Lee, New Hampshire; Edward and Jo-Ann Corr, a couple from Lakeville, Massachusetts; Michael Ferazzi, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, of Concord, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Aaron Perry, of Farmington, New Hampshire.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu expressed anger over Zhukovskyy's acquittal.
"The Fallen Seven did not receive justice today, and that is an absolute tragedy," the governor said in a statement. "I share in the shock, outrage, and anger that so many have expressed in the three years since the seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club were taken from us. My heart goes out to their families, friends, and loved ones on this especially dark day."
The trial in Coos County Superior Court in Lancaster started July 26.