Driver charged with killing 7 bikers no longer accused of crossing center line

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FILE – In this June 24, 2019, file photo, Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Mass., stands during his arraignment in district court in Springfield, Mass. In a trove of documents released Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, by federal investigators related to a June 21, 2019, crash, Zhukovskyy, the pickup truck driver charged with causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists, told authorities he had drug problem, regularly used heroin and cocaine but believed he was not impaired at the time of the crash. (Don Treeger/The Republican via AP, Pool, File)

(AP) – A lawyer for a pickup truck driver charged with causing the deaths of seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire in 2019 entered not guilty pleas Friday to multiple, amended charges that no longer accuse the driver of crossing into their lane.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 25, of Springfield, Massachusetts, faces multiple counts of negligent homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence and reckless conduct in the June 21, 2019, crash in Randolph. The victims, members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club, were from New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Zhukovskyy appeared by video for the brief hearing and just said “Yes, sir,” to affirm he could hear it. He has been jailed since the crash. His lawyer planned to file another motion to review bail conditions.

Zhukovskyy’s vehicle was traveling west and the motorcyclists were traveling east on the two-lane road. A grand jury indicted Zhukovskyy on March 10 alleging that Zhukovskyy caused a collision while driving the truck with an attached trailer.

Some of the original indictments from October 2019 stated that Zhukovskyy crossed “into the opposite lane of travel, thereby causing a collision” resulting in the deaths and injuries.

A defense motion filed last year said state police initially determined that Zhukovskyy’s flatbed trailer was 1 1/2 feet over the center line at the time of impact. But it added that the state disclosed a report from an independent accident reconstruction firm that challenged that assessment. The report said one of the motorcycles “was in fact protruding over onto the center line when it struck the truck,” according to the motion.

Meanwhile, Zhukovskyy’s lawyers have challenged a judge’s dates of Nov. 29-30 for jury selection and Dec. 1 for a 10-day trial, saying more time is needed for both proceedings. They asked if both could be scheduled for earlier in November. The matter wasn’t addressed in court Friday.

The trial had been tentatively scheduled for late June, but lawyers said at a recent hearing that that appeared unlikely.

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