A US Superior Court judge has rejected a bail hearing for young truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy who mowed down 10 motorcycles, killing seven people in a New Hampshire highway crash in June 2019.
His defence had claimed that the lead rider of the Marine Jarheads Motorcycle Club was over the centre line and had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.135.
However, Judge Peter H. Bornstein rejected the bail application because Zhukovskyys record showed he had a “pattern of illicit drug and alcohol use”.
The 24-year-old was arrested near his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts, three days after the carnage on a fugitive-from-justice charge.
He has also been charged with seven counts of manslaughter, seven counts of negligent homicide-DUI, seven counts of negligent homicide, one count of aggravated driving while intoxicated and one count of reckless conduct.
Depending on verdicts, he faces more than 100 years’ jail time. New Hampshire is now considering increasing jail time for any driver who kills another after previous drunk driving convictions.
Zhukovskyy has two prior drink-driving convictions yet still held a Massachusetts commercial driver’s license.
The state is also planning to allow the Director of Motor Vehicles to suspend or revoke an out-of-state truckers’ right to drive in a direct response to the multi-fatal.
Bali hearing rejected
Zhukovskyy is currently under arrest pending trial.
Her is alleged to have crossed the centre yellow line and run into a group of oncoming riders from the JarHeads Marine veterans group on their way to a charity event.
However, his lawyers say a new report into the incident claims club president Albert Mazza Jr. had a blood alcohol level of 0.135, according to an autopsy report, and that he had been looking back at his fellow bikers just prior to the crash.
Prosecutors say that on the morning of the crash Zhukovskyy consumed two “baggies” of heroin and half a gram of cocaine.
“The defendant’s criminal history proves that he is a danger, and preventative detention is the only way the court can ensure the safety of the public, and the defendant,” state prosecutors said.
The judge agreed.
Under New Hampshire law, negligent driving can currently be charged as a Class A if Zhukovskyy was intoxicated at the time.
Zhukovsky initially told officers he was leaning down to get something in his truck.
However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says Zhukovskyy tested positive for some type of narcotic or amphetamine at the time of the crash.
That makes it a Class A felony, so the term can go up to 15 years.
The judge may apply either concurrent or consecutive penalties, but there is no law requiring them to do so.
If they are consecutive, it could amount to 105 years in jail. That could multiply if the state approves the Bill for tougher penalties.
Zhukovskyy was to face a hearing in November 2019 but it has been delayed until November 2020.
He is a legal immigrant with a probationary green card who has been living in the USA for 13 years with his family. He may be deported back to the Ukraine if he is ever released from police custody.
The victims were members and associates of the Marine Jarheads Motorcycle Club who had just left their accommodation to attend their AGM.
They were hit by a Dodge 2500 pick-up truck carrying a long flat-bed trailer.
Club JarHeads president Manny Ribeiro says the driver “turned hard left into us and took out pretty much everyone behind me”.
Because the trailer was attached and it was such a big trailer, it was like a whip. It just cleaned us out.”
Among the carnage were a husband and wife.
The club consists of active duty or honourably discharged Marines and FMF Corpsmen.
Three people were also injured and taken to nearby hospitals.
The ages of the victims ranged from 42 to 62.
A gofundme account has been set up to rally support for the families of the victims.
It raised nearly $229,000 in the first day from more than 4720 people from across the US. It has raised almost $US590,000 ($A684,284) from more than 11,000 supporters.
As a result of crash investigations that found the driver should have had his licence revoked for previous drug charges, the Massachusetts motor vehicles chief resigned.