Truck driver charged in the deaths of 7 motorcycle riders in NH found not guilty on all charges

LANCASTER, N.H. — A truck driver charged in the deaths of seven motorcycle riders in New Hampshire was found not guilty on all charges Tuesday.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, faced multiple counts of negligent homicide and manslaughter in connection with a crash on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, on June 21, 2019.

Jurors got the case just before noon, after more than two weeks of testimony and quickly returned the verdict shortly before 3:00 p.m.

Zhukovskyy could be seen pointing to the sky and breaking down in tears after all of the verdicts were read.

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 had blamed the lead biker, Albert “Woody” Mazza, saying he lost control of his motorcycle and collided with the truck while driving drunk.

“Obviously we’re disappointed.” said Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase outside of court. “We believed, looking at the facts, that they were sufficient to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Our hearts obviously break for the victims’ families as well as just the greater community but again we respect the jury’s verdict.”

The defense team did not speak with reporters after the verdict.

Earlier in the day, during closing arguments, Chase told jurors there was no doubt who caused the deadly collision.

“What happened here isn’t a mystery,” said Chase.

“It’s just as obvious today as it was one three years ago,” said Chase, ”Since day one, since moment one, every single eyewitness including the man with the front row seat told you exactly what happened - who caused this crash, who was driving recklessly.”

“This isn’t a mystery. It’s not a whodunit,” said Chase. “We have heard a lot of excuses; we have heard a lot of distractions. but it is clear what happened here and who caused this crash.”

Zhukovskyy’s defense blamed the crash on Al Mazza, who was part of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club traveling that day, saying Mazza led his club into one of the worst accidents in recent memory.

“He was drunk, he was not looking where he was going, he lost control of his motorcycle and he slid into the front of Vlad Zhukovskyy’s truck.” said defense attorney Jay Duguay. “Al Mazza caused this accident.”

“Vlad Zhukovskyy is not guilty,.” said Duguay. “Al Mazza was driving his motorcycle while drunk, he wasn’t looking where he was going, he lost control of his bike and slid into the oncoming truck.”

Prosecutors addressed the defense tactic of placing the blame on Mazza, who was among the seven killed in the collision.

“Not one person saw Al Mazza impaired, driving off the road, but every person on that road - except for Adam Bartley three cars back - every person on that road saw the defendant all over it.“ said Chase. ”He endangered everyone.“

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.

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu released a statement Tuesday, calling the verdict a “absolute tragedy.”

“The Fallen Seven did not receive justice today, and that is an absolute tragedy,” said Sununu. “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.”

Editor’s note: Some material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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