Legal expert explains what’s to come following Zhukovskyy not guilty verdict

A verdict was delivered Tuesday in the trial of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the West Springfield truck driver who was on trial for a 2019 crash that killed 7 motorcyc
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:26 PM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - A verdict was delivered Tuesday in the trial of Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, the West Springfield truck driver who was on trial for a 2019 crash that killed 7 motorcyclists in New Hampshire.

A not guilty verdict came Tuesday, shocking many who have been following the case.

Western Mass News caught up with a local defense attorney to learn more about what this verdict means going forward.

After a two week trial, the jury has found Volodymyr Zhukovskyy not guilty on all 7 counts of vehicular homicide. The West Springfield man was accused of crossing the yellow line on a New Hampshire road in 2019, crashing into a group of motorcycle riders and killing seven of them.

“After the evidence was concluded, it’s pretty straightforward,” said defense attorney Joseph Pacella. “It shows that our system works because even when someone’s vilified like this, and I’m sure with all the families of the 7 people who died in the courtroom there had to be a lot of pressure on that jury to want to convict, it seems like they did the right thing here, not because it wasn’t a tragedy, but because they didn’t sustain their burden.”

Cacella told Western Mass News that this case rested on the experts.

“There was an expert for the defense who said that although Zhukovskyy was just over the centerline, that at the time of the accident, the bike had turned sideways, essentially, when it hit the truck. Therefore, he lost control first and he caused the accident,” Pacella explained.

In the years following the deadly accident, lawsuits have been filed against Zhukovskyy and the trucking company he worked for, including by one of the victims in the crash. We wanted to know how this verdict could play into those suits. Pacella said that it comes down to the facts.

“When there’s a conviction, many times it can be used in a further proceeding, in a civil proceeding,” he said. “When there isn’t, it can’t be used. So, it doesn’t necessarily change the math on other litigations completely, but it certainly sends a big signal to anyone judging any other litigation that the facts may not be what you thought they were.”

Despite this verdict, Zhukovskyy is not free to go just yet. Pacella said that he is currently being held on a detainer by the Department of Homeland Security due to immigration issues.