Volodymyr Zhukovskyy trial: Closing arguments expected Tuesday in trial over crash that killed 7 motorcyclists in New Hampshire

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of a West Springfield man who stands accused of killing seven motorcyclists in a New Hampshire crash in 2019.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, faces seven negligent homicide charges, seven manslaughter charges and a single reckless conduct charge. He had initially faced an additional eight charges related to driving under the influence of drugs, but a New Hampshire judge dismissed those charges last week, stating the prosecution had failed to produce sufficient evidence to support them.

The defense rested Monday after calling more witnesses. The majority of the testimony came from William Howerton, a crash reconstruction analyst with Scientific Boston, according to WMUR.

Howerton testified that the crash took place on the center line of the road and that Zhukovskyy’s truck was traveling straight at the time, WMUR reported.

Howerton told the court that he believed it was the lead motorcyclist who was killed during the crash, Albert Mazza Jr., who caused the accident by hitting the truck and causing it to cross the center line, according to WMUR.

Members of Jarhead Motorcycle Club were traveling eastbound on the highway when they collided with Zhukovskyy who was traveling westbound in a truck towing an empty flatbed trailer.

The defense attorney claims that Mazza had been drinking and his blood-alcohol level was close to twice the legal limit of .08 in New Hampshire. Federal investigators found that some of the bikers and passengers were impaired by alcohol, but claim it wasn’t the reason for the crash.

Last week on Wednesday, after the prosecution rested its case, a New Hampshire judge dismissed eight charges related to operating under the influence of drugs due to insufficient evidence from the prosecution. Zhukovskyy had told police he had taken heroin and cocaine during the morning of the crash, but the prosecution was unable to produce sufficient evidence that he was impaired at the time of the crash more than 10 hours later.

The court on Monday also heard from New Hampshire State Police Detective Sgt. Kempes Corbally, who conducted interviews following the crash, according to WMUR.

Corbally testified that he interviewed Jarhead member Sean Moynihan, who was following the motorcyclists in a car with two women at the time of the crash, and that the first statement Moynihan made was that he was intoxicated, WMUR reported. The defense attorney asked whether Corbally asked Moynihan whether other members of the motorcycle club had been drinking, and Corbally said that he did not ask, according to WMUR.

Seven members of the motorcycle club were killed in the crash and several others were injured. Those killed in the crash included Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Albert Mazza Jr., 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts.

Zhukovskyy’s defense called Adam Bartley, of Jefferson, New Hampshire, to the stand on Thursday. Bartley was driving behind Zhukovskyy the day of the crash.

Bartley told the court he never saw the truck Zhukovskyy was driving swerving or crossing lines. He also testified saying he was a few cars behind Zhukovskyy and never actually saw the moment of impact.

On Friday, the ninth day of Zhukovskyy’s trial, the defense called New Hampshire State Troopers Brandon Girardi and Daniel Quartulli to the stand.

New Hampshire State Trooper Brandon Girardi said the crash that killed Mazza and six other members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club was ‘largely unavoidable.’”

Girardi took part in the post-crash analysis and some scene reconstruction and analysis.

In the course of that work, Girardi determined that Zhukovskyy and Mazza, who led the pack of motorcyclists, would have only seen each other three seconds before the fatal collision.

“It wasn’t until two seconds away from the collision on both persons’ ends when they would have actually been able to perceive each other as an imminent threat to one another,” Girardi said.

The average human’s perception reaction time is only 1.5 or 1.6 seconds, according to Girardi.

“In my opinion, (the impact) was largely unavoidable based off the circumstances,” Girardi said in court Friday. “But, depending on either party we know that there was possible impairment issues on both ends and that could have skewed that time, that could have slowed or delayed their reaction time.”

Trooper Quartulli was responsible for mapping the scene of the crash, he addressed the location of the truck and motorcycles at the time of the crash.

Quartulli said he initially identified a mark at the scene as an avoidance maneuver by the motorcycle which would have put the truck “a distance over the centerline upon impacting the motorcycles.”

Upon further investigation of the mark, it was determined to be a flat tire mark, according to Quartulli.

“With that mark not being from a motorcycle and knowing the characteristics of the crash, it puts the truck further towards the centerline than I initially would have believed,” he said.

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