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Trial for Zhukovskyy, accused in motorcycle crash that killed seven, delayed until March

A photo of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy in profile, flanked by corrections officers.
Don Treeger
/
The Republican via AP Pool

On the eve of a trial for the Massachusetts man facing negligent homicide charges for his role in a 2019 crash in Randolph that killed seven motorcyclists, a judge is agreeing to delay proceedings for another five months after the credibility of the defense’s accident reconstruction expert was called into question this week.

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Jury selection in the case of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy was scheduled to start November 16, but on Tuesday, Judge Peter Bornstein signed off on a motion filed by the defense to reschedule the trial for March 2022.

Zhukovskyy is accused by prosecutors of colliding with a group of motorcyclists on Route 2 while driving a Dodge pick-up truck that was towing an empty car trailer. The state says Zhukovskyy admitted to having used cocaine and fentanyl the morning of the accident. His license was suspended at the time of the crash following a recent DUI arrest in Connecticut, though the State of Massachusetts had failed to process the paperwork, leading to an investigation in both that state and in New Hampshire about interstate driver's license records processing.

The motorcyclists killed were all members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, which is made up of Marines. The horrific crash led to an outpouring of support from the veteran and motorcycle community, including the creation of a roadside memorial to those killed.

The exact circumstances of the collision remain in dispute, including whether Zhukovskyy’s pickup truck crossed the double yellow line on the road. Both the state and the defense have hired independent crash reconstruction experts.

On Monday, the defense says it received a cache of documents that call into question the credibility of Stephen Benanti, who was hired by Zhukovskyy’s lawyers to serve as their crash analyst. Benanti, a former Massachusetts police officer, was deposed in preparation for the trial in September, during which time his record of discipline while a Massachusetts officer was discussed.

“Based upon an initial review of such materials, defense counsel no longer believe that they can present Mr. Benanti as a witness at trial, without substantially compromising the accused’s Constitutional rights to present all proofs favorable to his defense,” lawyers for Zhukovskyy wrote in a motion filed Tuesday.

The defense will now seek to hire a new crash reconstruction expert, a process that lawyers told the court could take five months to complete.

Zhukovskyy remains in jail pending the start of the trial.