A November trial date has been set for the truck driver facing homicide charges for allegedly killing seven motorcyclists while high in a collision last year in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein granted Tuesday a prosecutor’s proposed trial schedule after the public defender for Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the Springfield man facing 23 counts in the crash, initially didn’t agree to the schedule.
Zhukovskyy was anticipated to make his first public appearance Thursday in Coos Superior Court in Lancaster, N.H., since his arrest in Springfield last June before the parties agreed to the trial schedule and canceled the hearing, a spokeswoman for the New Hampshire courts said.
Previously, Zhukovskyy waived an arraignment in New Hampshire and avoided facing supporters of the victims in court.
Jay Duguay, Zhukovskyy’s public defender, did not respond to questions about his initial protest to the schedule pitched by a prosecutor in November. Coos County Attorney John McCormick was not available to comment Tuesday.
The new schedule also sets an Aug. 29 plea deadline for Zhukovskyy, who’s alleged to have driven his pickup truck and flatbed trailer head-on into riders with the Jarheads Motorcycle Club in Randolph, N.H., killing seven and severely injuring three others in a fiery wreck.
Zhukovskyy faces 378 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Earlier Tuesday, the wife of Albert Mazza, the Jarheads president killed in the accident, slammed the trucking company that employed Zhukovskyy in a court filing posted in a wrongful death suit.
Mary Lou Welch, countering Westfield Transport’s motion to dismiss her suit, listed Zhukovskyy’s long list of previous offenses in charging Westfield with negligent hiring.
Court filings and criminal records have revealed Zhukovskyy’s numerous drug and driving charges, including a May OUI arrest in Connecticut which should have suspended his license, prompting a high-profile shakeup at the Massachusetts RMV after the accident.
“In spite of Zhukovskyy’s propensity for dangerous driving and substance abuse, Defendant hired him as a transport driver and turned him loose on the road with a company truck and trailer,” the filing said.
Two other wrongful death suits in Massachusetts district courts, and a federal lawsuit by Westfield’s insurer have also been filed.