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Prosecutors: Pickup driver in N.H. motorcycle crash was driving 'erratically'

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy's release would 'likely present a danger to the safety of [himself] or the public,' a bail order Tuesday argued, citing his driving record.

LANCASTER, N.H. — The pickup driver charged in Friday's deadly New Hampshire crash was driving "erratically and across the double-yellow centerline" when he collided with the 10 motorcycles, according to a court filing publicly released Tuesday.

Seven motorcyclists were killed in the June 21 crash along Route 2 in Randolph. Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, was arrested Monday on a fugitive from justice warrant and charged with seven counts of negligent homicide. Later, he and his Massachusetts attorney declared an intention to plead not guilty.

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The not guilty plea was officially filed Tuesday by Zhukovskyy and his new attorney in New Hampshire, following an extradition process in which authorities from Massachusetts and New Hampshire transferred custody responsibilities.

Within the plea, Zhukovskyy and his attorney waived an arraignment scheduled for later that afternoon in Coos County Superior Court, and accepted a bail agreement ordering him to remain in preventative detention in New Hampshire.

The court's bail order said due to Zhukovskyy's criminal and driving history "exhibit[ing] a pattern of operating a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner," his release would "likely present a danger to the safety of [himself] or the public." 

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The criminal complaint filing against Zhukovsky released Tuesday briefly details the state's reasoning behind its decision to charge him with seven counts of negligent homicide. All seven statements of alleged offense are mostly uniform, with each victim's name being replaced: "Commit the crime of Negligent Homicide in that he negligently caused the death of [victim's name] by operating a vehicle, a 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck and attached trailer, on Route 2 westbound erratically and across the double-yellow centerline, thereby causing a collision with a motorcycle being operated by [victim's name] in the eastbound lane of travel; injuries sustained in said collision caused [victim's name]'s death."

Additionally, a request from prosecutors to seal the state's probable cause affidavit was granted Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Peter Bornstein. The ruling orders the defense to refrain from publicly releasing information detailed in the affidavit, and seals it for for a period of no less than 90 days.

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Connecticut prosecutors say Zhukovskyy was arrested May 11 in a Walmart parking lot in East Windsor after failing a sobriety test, the Associated Press reports. Zhukovskyy's lawyer in that case told the AP that Zhukovskyy denies being intoxicated and will fight the charge.

Credit: East Windsor Police Department via AP
This May 11, 2019 booking photo released by the East Windsor Police Department shows Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, after he was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in East Windsor, Conn. Zhukovskyy is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 in Lancaster, N.H., on seven counts of negligent homicide after the pickup he was driving collided with a group of motorcycles, killing seven on a two-lane highway in Randolph, N.H. on Friday night.

Zhukovskyy was also arrested on a drunken driving charge in 2013 in Westfield, Massachusetts, state records obtained by the AP show.

The Westfield News reported he was placed on probation for one year and had his license suspended for 210 days.

The final pretrial is scheduled for Nov. 4, with jury selection Nov. 8 and the actual trial immediately proceeding during the months of November and December.

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