Defense wants to suppress part of interrogation in Fallen Seven case

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy

LANCASTER — Defense attorneys for Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the man charged in the deaths of seven motorcyclists in a 2019 collision in Randolph, want to suppress 44 minutes of a police interrogation that occurred three days after the fatal crash.

Zhukovskyy faces seven alternative counts of reckless manslaughter, negligent homicide and negligent homicide/DUI, as well as single felony counts of aggravated driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs and reckless conduct for the collision. He has pleaded not guilty.

Killed were Albert Mazza, 59, of Lee, Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, R.I., Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, Aaron Perry, 45, of Lee, Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, and Edward and Joan Corr, both 58 of Lakeview, Mass. All were members of the Jarhead Motorcycle Club, made up of honorably discharged U.S. Marines.

Attorneys Jay Duguay and Steve Mirkin said about half way through the interrogation Zhukovskyy told two N.H. State police officers he was not feeling well.

“I mean, like, right now, I don’t even want to answer anything. Like, I’m just, like out of it,” Zhukovskyy said, according to the motion.

Once their client indicated in any manner that he wished to remain silent, the public defenders argued the interrogation should have stopped.

Instead of stopping their interrogation of Zhukovskyy, Detective Shawn Torsey and Sgt. Michael McLaughlin offered him some coffee and a “break” which lasted about two minutes. Then the two state police officers proceeded to question Zhukovskyy for another 44 minutes, refusing his request to remove his handcuffs, according to the motion.

Zhukovskyy, 24, had been arrested that morning at his West Springfield, Mass., home by Massachusetts State Police on a fugitive warrant and was interviewed by the New Hampshire officers at an office in Springfield, Mass.

He had been driving a pick-up truck hauling a trailer for Westfield Transportation on June 21, 2019, on Route 2 in Randolph when the truck collided with a group of 15 motorcycles.

Before the interrogation, the defense said it was made clear to Zhukovskyy that he was in custody, pending extradition to New Hampshire, and he was handcuffed the entire time. Zhukovskyy was read his Miranda rights, and while he waived his right to an attorney, the motion states he was told he had the right to stop answering questions at any time.

But instead of scrupulously honoring the defendant’s right to remain silent, the defense argues the officers sought to actively discourage Zhukovskyy from asserting his right by diverting his attention to other matters.

The motion says Zhukovskyy told the officers over the course of the interview that he had not used drugs since June 22 and as a result was not feeling well.

“He expressed repeatedly that he was cold, and requested a blanket, which the officers indicated they were trying to obtain for him,” the defense wrote.

Last month, Coos Superior Court Justice Peter Bornstein ruled prosecutors can introduce eyewitness reports that Zhukovskyy had been driving erratically that day and had overdosed on heroin a month before the fatal collision. But he would not allow into evidence other motor vehicle accidents involving Zhukovskyy.

Zhukovskyy is being held without bail in Coos County Jail in West Stewartstown, awaiting trial in Coos Superior Court this fall.

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Source: The Berlin Sun by Barbara Tetreault