Truck Driver Who Crashed Into Motorcyclists Asks N.H. Supreme Court For Bail Hearing
Lawyers for a Massachusetts man whose pickup truck collided with a group of motorcyclists in 2019 told the New Hampshire Supreme Court Tuesday that a trial court judge erred by not granting him a full evidentiary bail hearing.
Volodymyr Zhukovskyy has been held in preventative detention for over two years. He’s facing seven counts of negligent homicide, as well as other charges, for his role in a horrific crash in Randolph that killed seven members of the Jarhead Motorcycle Club, which is made up of Marines.
State prosecutors have argued Zhukovskyy, who has Ukrainian citizenship, is a flight risk, and would be a danger to the public if released, citing toxicology reports and interviews conducted after the crash that disclosed alleged cocaine and fentanyl use the day of the crash, as well as previous DWI charges that resulted in a suspended license.
During oral arguments, Assistant Attorney General Scott Chase told justices that the trial court judge had ample material on which to base his decision to deny bail, including an array of pleading and motions, and that an evidentiary hearing, which would allow the defense to call witnesses, was not mandated.
“The trial court was not required, as a matter of law, to use any specific method to assess the dangerousness of the defendant. It was within the trial court’s discretion to choose to hold a hearing to assess that dangerousness, or to rely on the extensive pleadings,” Johnson said.
Zhukovskyy’s criminal trial has been delayed multiple times. Jury selection is now slated to start in November.
His attorney, public defender Christopher Johnson, told justices Tuesday that a full evidentiary hearing was justified, given numerous disputes about the crash and Zhukovskyy’s actions that day.
The two sides agree about little of the circumstances that led to the crash. Police reports and prosecutors originally said Zhukovskyy, who was towing an empty car trailer, veered across the double yellow line, where he struck the first rider. One toxicology report showed Zhukovskyy had cocaine and other drugs in his system at the time of the crash, and admitted to law enforcement about his drug use earlier in the day. Zhukovskyy told law enforcement he was distracted at the moment of impact as he was reaching for a drink in his cab.
But the defense contends an independent crash reconstruction showed Zhukovskyy didn’t cross the double yellow line, and suggests the lead rider in the pack, who had alcohol in his system, may have been on or over the centerline. Zhukovskyy’s lawyers also point to interviews conducted shortly after the crash in which law enforcement failed to detect any intoxication.
“Among other things, the state is saying these are the facts, and the defense is saying, those are not the facts,” said Johnson. “And there has been no evidentiary hearing to address, is it ‘A’, or is it ‘B’?”
Just weeks before the Randolph crash, Zhukovskyy was also arrested for driving under the influence in Connecticut, but a failure by Massachusetts motor vehicle officials to process a notification led to Zhukovskyy’s license not being suspended.
Prosecutors say his driving history and drug use demonstrate that he would pose a risk to the public if released.